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Spring-Based Helmet System Support Prototype to Address Aircrew Neck Strain

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Technical Report

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Queen's University Kingston, ON Canada

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The Royal Canadian Air Force Griffon helicopter aircrew are known to have extremely high incidence of chronic, debilitating neck pain. Fischer et al. 2013 identified that unbalanced moments due to head-borne equipment i.e. helmet with NVG were a particular concern since the current solution was to add more weight battery pack and counterweight CW as a counterbalancing force. Three concepts were proposed to improve the helmet-NVG system with one commissioned by DRDC as a short-term solution to mitigate neck strainpain. A biomechanical model was developed which revealed that a constant force of approximately 8N was better than the current system. Two prototype designs were engineered and developed using rapid prototyping technology one design altered the moment arm of a linear spring system while the other altered its force. One prototype design was evaluated using a test battery to simulate pilots and flight engineers duties. The new counter-measure prototype was either equal to or better than the helmet-NVG and Helmet-NVG-CW conditions on 78 variables tested. Both concepts were demonstrated to 400 Sqn flight crews and received overwhelming positive responses with some suggestions for improvements. Based on these studies, the new counter-measure device should be refined to be production-ready and evaluated through normal military channels.

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