Forskningsprojekt: Neck pain in the Air Force

Björn Äng
Karin Harms-Ringdahl, NVS KI
Jan Linder, Aeromedical Center Swedish Air Force
Andreas Monnier, Swedish Armed Forces
Marcus Thuresson, NVS KI
Our existing research shows that neck pain and injuries are common in the air force pilot community, where significant proportion report interference with flying and operational effectiveness. Our epidemiological data indicate that headworn Night Vision Goggles (NVG) contributes to high rates of neck pain and add to the pilot’s neck workload. NV-equipment is definitely useful during rough weather in sea missions or in darkness, and such advantage certainly motivates the use of vision-enhancing equipment in military as well as in police and emergency aircraft. From our further experimental data it appeared that the increased load caused by different head and neck positions actually have greater influence on neck muscle activity than the load of the head-worn equipment. These findings were further verified by my post-doc experience in experiments using a dynamic flight simulator.

I continued using experimental trials, and I found that higher neck muscle strength is needed to protect and stabilize the head and neck in jet pilots’ high Gz environments. No such result was observed in helicopter pilots not exposed to high Gz-loads. Unexpectedly, our results indicated impaired muscle functioning on parameters that reflected muscle physiological fatigue. This was an important finding, and I spent years reflecting on this phenomenon before developing a new hypothesis. Here, a further experimental trial verified that altered neuromotor synergies are present at different progressions of pain. I again went further with an interventional approach using a randomized controlled trial. Results showed that a supervised neck/shoulder exercise intervention emphasizing motor control and movement quality improved neck motor function and had a positive, early, preventive effect over twelve months. This study was awarded the Joseph L. Haley Writing Award for the best paper published in 2009 in the area of Aviation Medicine (U.S. Army Aviation Medical Association, Phoenix, 2010).
Air Force, electromyography, neck pain, pilots, Air Force, electromyography, neck pain, pilots
Hälsa och välfärd
Idrotts- och hälsovetenskap
Medicinsk vetenskap
Gösta Fraenckel´s Foundation for Medical Research
Swedish Defence Research Agency