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Tissue Changes During Operational Load Bearing in UH-60 Aircrew Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging

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INTRODUCTION: Warfighters involved in mounted operations often experience prolonged periods of tissue loading, leading to injury. Determining how anatomical structures are affected during loading aids in the prevention and treatment of injury. The purpose of this study was to develop a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) compatible seat system that simulates a UH-60 Blackhawk in-flight sitting posture.

METHODS: Eight men were scanned with a 3.0 Tesla MRI. Scans were collected with and without 6.38 psi of pressure applied to the buttocks via two air bladders and an MRI-compatible robot controller system.

RESULTS: Scans revealed that 6.38 psi of pressure applied to the buttocks significantly decreases total soft-tissue thickness beneath the left and right ischial tuberosities by 3.6 and 3.8 mm, respectively.

DISCUSSION: At operational load bearing pressures seen in the UH-60, the soft tissue structures of the buttocks are compressed. These findings aid in our understanding of the etiology of repetitive trauma disorders in aircrew due to prolonged sitting. This study serves as the foundation for future work examining the anatomical changes associated with prolonged restricted sitting and other operational activities. A better understanding of the anatomical characteristics associated with mounted operations is invaluable to the prevention and treatment of injuries reported by warfighters and civilian populations.

Games KE, Kollock RO, Windham J, Fischer GS, Sefton JM. Tissue changes during operational load bearing in UH-60 aircrew using magnetic resonance imaging. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2015; 86(9):815–818.

Keywords: extended combat endurance; load-bearing stress; low back pain in aviators; military; musculoskeletal injury

Document Type: Short Communication

Affiliations: Department of Applied Medicine and Rehabilitation, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN, USA

Publication date: September 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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