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Human and behavioral factors contributing to spine-based neurological cockpit injuries in pilots of high-performance aircraft: recommendations for management and preventionIn high-performance aircraft, the need for total environmental awareness coupled with high-g loading (often with abrupt onset) creates a predilection for cervical spine injury while the pilot is performing routine movements within the cockpit. In this study, the prevalence and severity of cervical spine injury are assessed via a modified cross-sectional survey of pilots of multiple aircraft types (T-38 and F-14, F-16, and F/A-18 fighters). Ninety-five surveys were administered, with 58 full responses. Fifty percent of all pilots reported in-flight or immediate post-flight spine-based pain, and 90% of fighter pilots reported at least one event, most commonly (> 90%) occurring during high-g (> 5 g) turns of the aircraft with the head deviated from the anatomical neutral position. Pre-flight stretching was not associated with a statistically significant reduction in neck pain episodes in this evaluation, whereas a regular weight training program in the F/A-18 group approached a significant reduction (mean = 2.492; p < 0.064). Different cockpit ergonomics may vary the predisposition to cervical injury from airframe to airframe. Several strategies for prevention are possible from both an aircraft design and a preventive medicine standpoint. Countermeasure strategies against spine injury in pilots of high-performance aircraft require additional research, so that future aircraft will not be limited by the human in control.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Jones, J. A. (NASA Johnson Space Center Houston TX United States)
Hart, S. F.
Baskin, D. S.
Effenhauser, R.
Johnson, S. L.
Novas, M. A.
Jennings, R.
Davis, J.
Date Acquired
August 22, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2000
Publication Information
Publication: Military medicine
Volume: 165
Issue: 1
ISSN: 0026-4075
Subject Category
Man/System Technology and Life Support
Distribution Limits
Case Reports