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Free Content Identifying Pilots with Parkinson’s Disease

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BACKGROUND: In 2012 the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare produced a report titled ‘Dementia in Australia.’2 The report noted that the number of people with dementia in Australia would reach almost 400,000 by 2020. Australia is a jurisdiction which does not impose a mandatory retirement age for pilots. With an aging population it was hypothesized that conditions such as Parkinson’s disease (PD) were likely to be seen more commonly by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). It was decided that this was an appropriate time to retrospectively study the data held by CASA.

METHODS: An interrogation of CASA databases was undertaken. Data was produced comparing percentage of Class 1 certificate holders over 60 yr of age against time. A cohort of pilots and controllers with PD was identified. The history of the cases was reviewed.

RESULTS: The study confirms that the pilot population is aging in line with population trends. Over a period from 1992 to 2012, 22 cases of pilots and controllers with PD were identified.

DISCUSSION: The study confirmed that PD will be of increased relevance over the next decade. Gaps between policy and practice managing past cases were identified. Updated guidelines have been published aiming to address the deficiencies identified in the study. Historically pilots and controllers have been able to maintain certification for an average of 3.75 yr. This information should be of benefit to clinicians, pilots, and controllers when considering occupation and treatment options.

Clem PA, Navathe PD, Drane MA. Identifying pilots with Parkinson’s disease. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2016; 87(6):545–549.

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Keywords: CASA; aging; neurological impairment; pilot

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Publication date: June 1, 2016

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  • 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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