Self-Report and Ocular Measures of Fatigue in U.S. Army Apache Aviators Following Flight
ARMY AEROMEDICAL RESEARCH LAB FORT RUCKER AL
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AH-64 Apache helicopter pilots fly the aircraft using a monocular helmet-mounted display that provides imagery from two separate forward-looking infrared sensors mounted on the nose of the aircraft. Studies have documented complaints of fatigue, headaches, and visual problems associated with the use of this sighting system. The goal of this study were 1to quantify possible flight-induced fatigue in Apache aviators and 2to evaluate minimally intrusive neurophysiologic measures of fatigue for potential use in operational environments. Methods Using a pre-post design, we assessed self-reported levels of alertness, physical, cognitive, and visual fatigue and ocular indices of fatigue obtained using an instrument specifically designed to capture various eye responses. Fifty-three aviators contributed data to this study. Results Significant differences in all pre- and postflight ocular responses were observed. Pupil size and constriction latency increased while constriction amplitude and saccadic velocity decreased. Significant pre- and postflight differences also were seen on all self-report measures. Pilots reported less alert and more fatigued following flight. Conclusions We found that flight in an AH-64 Apache was a significant factor in producing changes in ocular and self-report measures similar to those produced by sleep loss.
- Anatomy and Physiology