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Trapezius Muscle Metabolism Measured With NIRS in Helicopter Pilots Flying a Simulator

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Harrison MF, Neary JP, Albert WJ, Veillette DW, McKenzie NP, Croll JC. Trapezius muscle metabolism measured with NIRS in helicopter pilots flying a simulator. Aviat Space Environ Med 2007; 78:110–116.



Introduction: This study examined metabolic and hemodynamic responses during night vision goggle (NVG) induced neck strain among military helicopter pilots. We hypothesized that near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) would be capable of identifying metabolic differences in the trapezius muscles of pilots between simulated flights with and without NVG. Methods: There were 33 pilots who were monitored on consecutive days during Day and NVG flight simulator missions. NIRS probes were attached bilaterally to the trapezius muscles at the C7 level to record total oxygenation index (TOI, %), total hemoglobin (tHb), oxyhemoglobin (HbO2), and deoxyhemoglobin (HHb). Results: Significant differences in tHb were found between Day (0.51 ± 2.31 μmol · cm−1) and NVG (4.14 ± 2.74 μmol · cm−1) missions, and for HbO2 (Dayend 2.63 ± 1.64 μmol · cm−1; NVGend 5.77 ± 1.98 μmol · cm−1). Significant left and right side differences between Day and NVG were found for tHb (NVGleft −1.83 ± 2.55; NVGright 10.45 ± 2.86 μmol · cm−1), HbO2 (NVGleft 1.77 ± 1.90; NVGright 9.95 ± 2.07 μmol · cm−1), and HHb (Dayleft −1.84 ± 0.95; Dayright −2.32 ± 0.87 μmol · cm−1; NVGleft −3.60 ± 1.05 μmol · cm−1; NVGright 0.49 ± 1.16 μmol · cm−1). Discussion: These results support NIRS’s utility in assessing the significant metabolic and hemodynamic effects of NVG on neck musculature during real-time missions for 1) left and right side differences; and 2) Day vs. NVG missions. The additional mass of the NVG equipment does increase the metabolic stress of these muscles during simulated missions.
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Keywords: helicopter simulator; hemodynamics; military; near infrared spectroscopy; neck strain; night vision goggles; trapezius

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2007

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