Overview of the NAVAIR Spinal Injury Mitigation Program
NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND PATUXENT RIVER MD
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In order to enhance flight performance, numerous Naval and joint DoD development programs feature head-supported devices HSD for fixed and rotary wing aircraft, e.g. night vision goggles and displays. However, wearing these systems during long duration operations or while exposed to repeated shock, impact, ejection, and crash increases the risk of spinal injury. Factors that affect injury tolerance include the additional weight, which typically pitches the head forward, age, gender, workrest cycle, cervical orientation, and behavior. Limited applicable risk criteria exist due to specific gaps in our knowledge of spinal injury in aerospace environments. Current injury criteria are principally based on automotive crash data using individuals without headgear. The Office of Naval Research is sponsoring a multidisciplinary effort led by NAVAIR to quantitatively determine the risk of injury through the development of an anatomically based parameterized probabilistic spinal injury production model. This effort includes conducting a series of studies to fill those knowledge gaps and apply the data to build a validated model that accounts for gender, size, and loading factors. New techniques have also been developed to quantify parachute opening shock loads and determine the limits of dynamic neck strength and endurance. By applying these tools, neck injury mitigation devices have been prototyped.
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Weapons Effects (Biological)