2004 Volume 7 Issue 1 Pages 1-9
Adult musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) such as neck and low back pain have been widely reported as being of significant health and economic concern in industrialised countries. Recent literature has indicated that these disorders are also prevalent amongst school students. Student posture in classroom environments has been implicated as a risk factor for spinal MSD, but the relationship between student classroom postures and the development of subsequent adult MSD is unknown. Thus, this review examined the literature on school student (pupil) posture (five year olds through to university) in classroom environments, and its potential for predisposing adults to musculoskeletal conditions (particularly neck and low back pain) in their working life. The review is presented under the following five headings: student posture, anthropometrics and furniture; computer use; pain reporting; vision. The review indicated that all of these factors could influence the prevalence of MSD amongst pupils and suggested that any attempts to reduce MSD amongst school children should include an integrated ergonomics approach involving micro and macro ergonomic factors such as classroom furniture design, posture education, backpack weight and load carriage, learning systems re-organisation and general organisation of school activities. Although there was strong evidence that all five of the main factors examined in this review are related to MSD amongst school students, none of the papers reviewed provided any specific evidence that student MSD was related to subsequent MSD in adult life. It is therefore concluded that there was no clear objective evidence to support the view that there is a relationship between poor school posture and the development of neck and/or low back pain in adult working life.