Neck pain is common among occupations like dentistry and office work because workers in these professions tend to hold their necks in static flexion for extended periods of time. But there are few products available to help alleviate workers’ neck pain while still allowing them to carry out their daily tasks in varying environments. For example, office workers can use products like ergonomic chairs and desks to help promote proper posture, but these arrangements restrict workers to workspaces equipped with their necessary equipment and proper setup. Meanwhile, in the medical field, products like loupes, lights, and ergonomic workbenches are available to enhance visibility and reduce workers’ neck flexion angles. But these products have yet to fully eliminate the problem of neck pain especially in occupations like dentistry where static neck flexion is common. Therefore, the goal of this project is to develop a new neck support technology which alleviates neck pain caused by static neck flexion while still allowing workers full mobility and functionality in their workplace. Our design decreases muscle loading on the neck during neck flexion by reducing the moment on the neck using a device which acts as a “headrest” to support the head. In turn, the device redistributes forces to the upper body while still allowing full range of motion to the user. More specifically, our design applies an opposing force to the user’s forehead during neck flexion via a force generator attached to a headband which is attached to the head. The force generator is anchored to the upper body to permit use in varying environments without the need for special equipment or setups. We confirmed our design decreases muscle loading by building a prototype then performing surface electromyography (EMG) testing which showed not just a statistically significant reduction in neck muscle activity using one-way analysis of variance, but more distinctly a unanimous decrease in neck muscle activity during neck flexion for all seven test subjects with an overall average decrease of 60% among all subjects and 80% for certain subjects. Once we confirmed our design’s effectiveness in reducing neck muscle activity during static neck flexion which implied the ability to reduce neck strain, we improved our prototype’s functionality and aesthetics based on test subject feedback, our own observations, and dentists’ comments. Then, we performed workplace testing on two dentists with one dentist’s work focused mainly on hygiene while the other dentist’s work focused mostly on dental procedures. Overall, both dentists offered helpful feedback from different dental field perspectives for future prototype improvements with regards to comfort and functionality. They also provided promising comments regarding their visions for future device use which included training dental students on proper posture and applications in other occupations like office work and surgery.

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