I would appreciate any feedback, opinion, or links to research to indicate that a headrest is necessary or beneficial for an office computer workstation. I have provided a headrest on very rare occasions due to medical reasons. One instance was due to a neck injury which the doctor indicated the the neck and head needed more support and when there was a severe back injury to which the user was only comfortable working in a reclined position (hip was open to approximately 125 degrees).
I don’t regard headrests on office chairs to be necessary unless as you say there is a medical need.
I’ve used one in the past on a HÅG Credo chair and although it was nice to be able to recline and support my head and neck, as I spent most of the time sitting upright I didn’t use it that much.
That’s really the problem with headrests, they only really work when you’re reclining or leaning back.
If you watch this short animation on HÅG’s website you’ll see what I mean.
I work in an occupational injury environment and have taken numerous courses in industrial engineering. Theoretically, some report that a headrest is beneficial. However, I am of the personal belief that a headrest is somewhat useless. Productive work will usually demand more of an upright posture when sitting in a chair. Because everyone has a different posture and stature, it would almost be more work to attempt to keep the head in contact with the headrest. In contrast, if the worker is on a timed rest schedule, the headrest may be a bit more beneficial. This seems like a really good topic to ponder and research, though. Good luck!
I used to think they were only necessary for medical reasons or in call centers where people spend 12 hour shifts and often have "down time" in the wee hours and can lean back and have a more "restful" posture.
And then I turned 50…. I have lived with a neck issues for many years and this summer the mere thought of sitting at the computer to write my reports to reply to email at the end of the day became UNTHINKABLE due to neck pain. (And believe me I have the most tricked out ergonomic office that ever housed an ergonomics consultant…) I borrowed a chair with an articulating head rest (height and depth and angle adjustable) and I couldn’t believe how QUICKLY it made a difference for me. (and has saved me a bundle in chiropractic treatment avoidance costs!)
I now have a much different outlook on this subject. But I agree that unless people can USE the headrest it’s not worth getting. 90% of the chairs I’ve evaluated with headrests are so poorly designed that using the headrest is not likely to happen. It all goes back to FIT, FORM, and FUNCTION. Also if the individual is going to recline while using a computer changes need to be made to potentially every other aspect of the workstation in order to "match" the new seated posture. This means monitor height, keyboard height and placement (angle included) and perhaps surface heights as well. And I’d never recommend that someone sit in this posture without a keyboard tray. Reaching forward to use a keyboard and mouse on the desktop would eliminate the whole purpose for having the chair with the headrest.
I’m a lot more liberal now about headrest use. But a lot more critical of the designs I see. I’ve always known that if you change one thing (seated posture) you need to change all of them… but I see MANY individuals ignoring this reality and getting poor results because of it.
Anne McKinstry (formerly Shihadeh) CSHM, CPDM
Which chairs do you favor with a Headrest? I have experience with the Humanscale Freedom and Office Master.
At home I use a Bodybilt (ErgoGenesis) chair with an articulating "neckroll". I also like the articulating headrest that RFM Seating has. (http://www.rfmseating.com) I put a client with a medical issue in an RFM Ray chair with the articulating headrest just today. I really like the RFM headrest because it is not covered with fabric, making it easier to keep clean, and it articulates in 4 areas making it extremely flexible for positioning.Anne McKinstry (formerly Shihadeh) CSHM, CPDM
Steelcase also makes a nice chair with a headrest, called the "Think".
We have used this chair for employees with a medical need.
I think the head rest can be used by people who work long periods of time in front of a VDT work station, the possibility of reclining on a chair with a head rest and open the angle between tights and trunk releaves back tension. Workers in Control Rooms with several screens do appreciate a head rest in their 12 hour shifts.
Jose Ignacio Gamboa
I have a client right now where I am looking for a little more neck support to add to her existing chair. She does not have a severe medical condition to warrant a new chair and a slight modification would make her more comfortable.
What I have done to date is created an interim solution. She had an obus form on her chair with an adjustable lumbar pad that had a velcro strip to allow her to place it anywhere on the chair. I have removed the obus form and fitted the chair to her. The little lumbar pad though I have moved up to her neck area as she uses this as a rest on occasion when she is sitting back or reclining in her chair. Due to postural imblances she cannot contact the backrest of her chair fully without this little cushion.
Does anyone have a suggestion for something more permanent that would also look a little more professional? She does work for a professional orgainization without having to purchase a whole new chair.
Neck pain as a result of sitting is generally caused by problems in other parts of the body, or other defects in desk setup. Poor head position and neck pain is just the symptom.
The biggest problem is the common 90 chair. It’s just not built to be ergo. Much like your patient example, our bodies are built for closer to 130 degree hip angles. Despite the best of intentions to sit upright with good posture in a regular 90 degree chair, people wind up sliding their bottoms forward and tilting their pelvis back as they are engaged in a battle with a body that constantly wants to open that hip angle back up. People don’t sit upright most of the day because they can’t, at least not in a regular 90 degree chair.
When people can’t sit upright and start to lean back, this puts the natural head spine line at an angle backwards rather than straight up and down. Sitting with your head held back all day is massively uncomfortable. So people wind up crooking it forward out of line with the spine, which is also massively uncomfortable. Either way, you get neck pain. A headrest may alleviate some of the neck pain, but it’s just a mask for the real problem–your hips are being held in an unnaturally tight angle that throws the rest of your body out of balance. The only time you should "need" a headrest is when the head-spine line is not vertical.
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