Type of Document Dissertation Author McRoberts, Luz Barona Author's Email Address email@example.com URN etd-04102008-130937 Title The Design and Assessment of a Soft Structural Prototype for Postural Alignment Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Textiles and Consumer Science, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Catherine Black Committee Co-Chair Rinn Cloud Committee Co-Chair Jeanne Heitmeyer Committee Member Lynn Panton Committee Member Thomas Ratliffe Committee Member Keywords
- Functional Design Process
- Body Scanning
- Wear Test
Date of Defense 2008-03-17 Availability unrestricted AbstractProper alignment of posture can serve as a preventative measure or treatment for back pain or strain. Despite the prevalence of spine (back) problems in the domestic population, many patients are non-compliant with current methods of treatment or prevention which include exercise (Dettotri, Bullock, Sutlive, Franklin, & Patience, 1996), use of supports (Dunn, Brace, Masud, Haslam, & Morris, 2005 ), and sometimes surgery (MayoClinic.com, 2007). Supports include rigid, brace-type structures as well as semi-rigid or non-rigid structures, some of which are worn like garments. The development of a soft structural support garment to support proper postural alignment may meet with improved compliance based on the symbiotic relationship between comfort and wearer acceptability (Rutherford-Black & Khan, 1995; Huck & Kim, 1997; Watkins, 1995; and Barker, 2007).
Postural alignment is established by the relationship between the five areas of the back and their relationships to one another (Rhodes, 1996). Existing support garments have focused on the cervical and lumbar regions of the back or on multiple regions. There is a lack of research on the thoracic region of the spine and the possible role of soft structural support garments in encouraging proper postural alignment by focusing on that area.
This study developed and tested a prototype for a soft structural support garment for the thoracic area of the spine to improve postural alignment. The purpose was to design and assess the postural alignment effectiveness, wearer acceptability, and comfort aspects of a prototype soft structural thoracic support garment as compared to two commercially available thoracic support garments (ComA and ComB). Each of the treatments was assessed for postural alignment effectiveness using an existing photographic method and using a method developed in this study that employs a 3-dimensional body scanner. Participants wore the garments during a prescribed activity protocol to evaluate wearer acceptability, thermal comfort, fit, and mobility.
The results of the study indicated that the prototype was successful in providing equivalent postural alignment, thermal comfort, static and dynamic fit satisfaction, overall mobility, and psychosocial comfort, as compared to the two commercially available structural support garments. The prototype also provided similar wearer acceptability as the commercially available support A (ComA). However, the prototype provided better wearer acceptability than the commercially available support B (ComB). The prototype was also rated as having better ease of movement for typing and reaching forward than ComB and was perceived as more loosely fitted than both ComA and ComB. Additionally, more participants provided positive comments regarding the aesthetics, style, and design of the prototype than the other treatments.
The prototype also provided significantly better postural alignment than the control as measured by the photographic method used in the study. This indication of postural alignment effectiveness of a soft structural support garment for the thoracic area of the spine adds to the body of knowledge regarding the use of such garments for prevention or treatment of poor posture. Results of the study provided information for improvement of the prototype including frequent suggestions from participants that a built-in bra would be desirable.
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