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The effect of backpack loading configuration and design features on postural stability, energy cost and shoulder interface pressure

Golriz, Samira (2013) The effect of backpack loading configuration and design features on postural stability, energy cost and shoulder interface pressure. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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While backpacks are commonly used to transfer extra load, they are sometimes associated with negative effects on the body. The broad aim of this thesis was to study the effect of backpack loading configurations on postural stability, physiological variables, perceived exertion, and interface pressure and compare them to an unloaded condition. The specific aims of this thesis were to: 1) systematically review the literature and identify relevant deficits in knowledge; 2) assess the test-retest reliability and criterion validity of a force plate which has unknown psychometric properties; 3) examine the effect of carrying a 20% of body weight loaded backpack and load placement in a backpack (high vs. low load placement) on postural stability, physiological variables and backpack-shoulder interface pressure; 4) assess the effect of hip belt use on postural stability; and 5) investigate the effect of shoulder strap width on backpack-shoulder interface pressure. These aims were investigated using force plates, a metabolic cart, pressure sensors, and questionnaires. Our results indicated that carrying loaded backpacks decreased postural stability, increased physiological variables and perceived exertion as compared to an unloaded condition. While a hip belt did not enhance postural stability, participants reported a perception of increased stability and less exertion. Load placement did not influence postural stability, physiological variables, perceived stability or exertion; however, participants reported lower levels of local perceived exertion at the shoulders and the upper back regions when the load was placed low in the backpack. Conversely, low load placement resulted in higher shoulder interface pressure as compared to high load placement. Shoulder strap width also affected shoulder interface pressure with wide shoulder straps associated with lower shoulder interface pressure. While we identified several aspects of backpack configuration and loading characteristics and their effects on postural stability, energy cost, interface pressure and perceived exertion, additional study of backpack configuration and the resulting impact on biomechanical and physiologic characteristics is required.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Chiropractic and Sports Science
Supervisor(s): Walker, Bruce and Hebert, Jeffrey
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