Flight-training effect on the cervical muscle strength of trainee pilots
Aerospace Medical Association
School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science
External stimulus/loading initiates adaptations within skeletal muscle. It has been previously found that the cervical area has the highest loading while performing flying maneuvers under +Gz. The first purpose of this study was to examine the neck muscle response to the physical environment associated with flight training, incorporating limited exposure to +Gz force, in a Pilatus PC-9 aircraft. The second purpose was to examine the short-term range of movement (ROM) response to flight training. Isometric cervical muscle strength and ROM was monitored in 9 RAAF pilots completing an 8-mo flight-training course at Pearce Airbase in Western Australia, and in 10 controls matched for gender, age, height, and weight. Isometric cervical muscle strength and ROM were measured at baseline and at 8 mo using the multi-cervical rehabilitation unit (Hanoun Medical, Downsview, Ontario, Canada). Results indicated that an increase in pilot neck strength was limited to flexion while in a neutral position. No strength changes were recorded in any other site in the pilots or for the controls. These findings suggest that short-term exposure to the physical environment associated with flight training had a limited significant effect on increasing isometric cervical muscle strength. No significant changes were observed in pilot ROM, indicating that short-term exposure to flight does not effect ROM.