Effect of head-mounted displays on posture

James Knight, Christopher Baber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: The aim of the present study was to determine if a wearable system based on a head-mounted display (HMD) causes users to alter their head position and adopt postures that place greater stress on the musculoskeletal system. Background: HMDs are common output devices used with wearable computers. HMDs provide the wearer with visual information by projecting computer-generated virtual images in front of the eyes. Deviations of neck posture from a neutral upright position increase the stresses on the musculoskeletal system of the head and neck. Method: Seven paramedics simulated the treatment of a patient under a normal condition and when using an HMD wearable computer system. During the simulations a posture analysis was performed using the Rapid Upper Limb Assessment method. Results: The postures adopted when wearing an HMD, as compared with a normal condition, scored significantly higher for the neck (z = 2.463, p <.05) and for overall body posture (left side of the body: z = 2.447, p <.05; right side of the body: z = 2.895, p <.05). Conclusion: Wearing an HMD can force the wearers to modify their neck posture. As such, the musculoskeletal system of the head and neck may be placed under increased levels of stress. Application: Potential users should be made aware that HMDs could dictate modifications in neck posture, which may have detrimental effects and may compound the weight effect of the HMD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-807
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2007


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