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Musculoskeletal Pain in High-G Aircraft Training Programs: A Survey of Student and Instructor Pilots

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Technical Report,01 Jul 2014,01 May 2016

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USAF School of Aerospace Medicine/FEE Wright-Patterson AFB United States

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Studies note musculoskeletal MS symptoms in pilots flying high-G aircraft, impacting mission readiness with concerns for chronic disability. We hypothesized similar prevalence of MS symptoms in student pilots, but we could not find studies that addressed this population. Focused MS strength training and alternative medical treatments would significantly benefit our pilots. Instructor pilots benefitted from osteopathic manipulation at Laughlin Air Force Base, but student pilots were not seen. An aeromedical literature review on pilots MS issues helped design a survey that was distributed anonymously to T-6, T-38, and T-1 student and instructor pilots at Laughlin Air Force Base, with a response rate of 75.8 . Instructors reported MS pain that interfered with flying and non-flying activities by a 21 ratio over students during most training scenarios, similar to literature reports. Both stated alternative therapies were effective. Mission requirements interfered with strength training and therapies. More pilots would report MS issues if they could receive timely and effective therapies without being grounded.

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