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Diagnostic Categories Among 232 Military Aircrew with Musculoskeletal Disabilities

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Taneja N, Pinto LJ. Diagnostic categories among 232 military aircrew with musculoskeletal disabilities. Aviat Space Environ Med 2005; 76:581–585.

Background: Musculoskeletal disabilities are a cause for concern in aircrew as they can critically affect return to flying duties. Analysis of the nature and cause of musculoskeletal disabilities can provide insight to assist in developing preventive and therapeutic intervention programs. Methods: The Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) is responsible for centralized evaluation of military and civil aircrew with any musculoskeletal disability. We analyzed musculoskeletal disabilities among Indian Air Force aircrew who were evaluated at this Institute from 2001–2003. Results: A total of 232 aircrew were evaluated. The majority (53.4%, n = 124) came from the fighter stream. A large proportion (30.2%, n = 70) were in the age group 26 to 30 yr with an additional number (25.4%, n = 59) in the 31–35 age group. Musculoskeletal injuries affecting the spine constituted most (48.2%, n = 121) of the disabilities followed by upper limbs (28.2%, n = 71) and lower limbs (19.9%, n = 50), respectively. Of the spinal disabilities, degenerative disease of the disk was the leading diagnosis (46 aircrew, 38.0%), followed by fracture of the spine (28.1%, n = 35). Road traffic accidents accounted for almost a quarter of the injuries (23.3%, n = 54). Discussion: These findings provide insight into the nature of musculoskeletal disabilities among military aircrew. Implications for preventive and therapeutic strategies are elaborated. Follow-up studies to understand the characteristics associated with each disability have been initiated.
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Keywords: aircrew; interventions; musculoskeletal disabilities; thoracolumbar fractures

Document Type: Short Communication

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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