Back pain in Polish military helicopter pilots
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Faculty of Physical Education and Sports in Biała Podlaska, Physiotherapy Department, Academy of Physical Education, Warszawa, Poland
Spine Surgery Department, Professor Adam Gruca Public Hospital, Otwock, Poland
Faculty of Physical Education and Sports, Academy of Physical Education, Akademicka 2, 21-500, Biała Podlaska, Poland
Department of Aeromedical Training, Military Institute of Aviation Medicine, Warszawa, Poland
Department of Flight Safety, Military Institute of Aviation Medicine, Warszawa, Poland
Department of Aviation Physiology, Military Institute of Aviation Medicine, Warszawa, Poland
Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2012;25(3):258-64
Objectives: Low back pain in pilots of military helicopters is widely discussed in the world literature. Vibrations and improper seat configuration cause that cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine might be exposed to overloading. The aim of the study was to determine the incidence and intensity of pain in the spine as well as to identify subjective risk factors of back pain and its effect on the pilot’s actions while flying a helicopter. Materials and Methods: 112 pilots, aged 25−56 years (mean age: 34.8±6.3 years), actively flying helicopters, participated in the questionnaire survey. The questionnaire containing five groups of questions, elaborated by the authors, was used. Results: 70% of the pilots reported pain complaints. Pain was localized in different parts of the spine. Uncomfortable body posture during prolonged flights resulting from the lack of lumbar support exerted the highest effect on pain provocation. Conclusions: This questionnaire survey enabled to determine the prevalence of pain, its type and intensity. Knowledge on low back pain imposes the necessity to eliminate the negative environmental effect on helicopter pilotage. Elimination of risk factors is possible through appropriate physical exercises and adjustment of pilots’ seats. The authors plan to conduct – in the future – detailed annual examinations among pilots with back pain and, based on the results, to elaborate a prophylactic program containing simple forms of isometric and isotonic training involving paravertebral and deep abdominal muscles designed specifically for pilots of military helicopters.
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