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Free Content Prolonged Restricted Sitting Effects in UH-60 Helicopters

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INTRODUCTION: Advances in flight technologies and the demand for long-range flight have increased mission lengths for U.S. Army Black Hawk UH-60 crewmembers. Prolonged mission times have increased reports of pilot discomfort and symptoms of paresthesia thought to be due to UH-60 seat design and areas of locally high pressure. Discomfort created by the seat-system decreases situational awareness, putting aviators and support crew at risk of injury. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of prolonged restricted sitting in a UH-60 on discomfort, sensory function, and vascular measures in the lower extremities.

METHODS: There were 15 healthy men (age = 23.4 ± 3.1 yr) meeting physical flight status requirements who sat in an unpadded, UH-60 pilot’s seat for 4 h while completing a common cognitive task. During the session, subjective discomfort, sensory function, and vascular function were measured.

RESULTS: Across 4 h of restricted sitting, subjective discomfort increased using the Category Partitioning Scale (30.27 point increase) and McGill Pain Questionnaire (8.53 point increase); lower extremity sensory function was diminished along the S1 dermatome; and skin temperature decreased on both the lateral (2.85°C decrease) and anterior (2.78°C decrease) aspects of the ankle.

DISCUSSION: The results suggest that prolonged sitting in a UH-60 seat increases discomfort, potentially through a peripheral nervous or vascular system mechanism. Further research is needed to understand the etiology and onset of pain and paresthesia during prolonged sitting in UH-60 pilot seats.

Games KE, Lakin JM, Quindry JC, Weimar WH, Sefton JM. Prolonged restricted sitting effects in UH-60 helicopters. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2015; 86(1):34–40.

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Keywords: aircrew; cumulative trauma disorders; military

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2015

More about this publication?
  • This journal (formerly Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine), representing the members of the Aerospace Medical Association, is published monthly for those interested in aerospace medicine and human performance. It is devoted to serving and supporting all who explore, travel, work, or live in hazardous environments ranging from beneath the sea to the outermost reaches of space. The original scientific articles in this journal provide the latest available information on investigations into such areas as changes in ambient pressure, motion sickness, increased or decreased gravitational forces, thermal stresses, vision, fatigue, circadian rhythms, psychological stress, artificial environments, predictors of success, health maintenance, human factors engineering, clinical care, and others. This journal also publishes notes on scientific news and technical items of interest to the general reader, and provides teaching material and reviews for health care professionals.

    To access volumes 74 through 85, please click here.
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