Predicting Neck Pain in Royal Australian Air Force Fighter Pilots
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Objective: Fighter pilots frequently report neck pain and injury, and although risk factors have been suggested, the relationships between risk factors and neck pain have not been quantified. The aim of this study was to identify personal and work behaviors that are significantly associated with neck pain in fighter pilots. Methods: Eighty– two Royal Australian Air Force fighter pilots were surveyed about their flying experience, neck pain prevalence, and prevention. Multinomial logistic regressions were used to fit models between pilots’ neck pain during and after flight and a range of personal and work characteristics. Results: In-flight neck pain was very weakly, yet positively associated with flight hours. Duration of postflight pain was positively associated with the weekly desktop work hours and the sum of preventative actions taken in flight. The duration pilots were considered temporarily medically unfit for flying was positively associated with pilots’ age and their weekly desktop work hours. Discussion: The risk factors identified by the current study should guide neck pain prevention for fighter pilots. In particular, reducing desktop working hours as well as incorporating specific neck-strengthening exercises and in-flight bracing actions should be considered by agencies to help alleviating neck pain in their pilots.
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