Date of Award

2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science Honours

School

School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Communications, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Fiona Naumann

Second Advisor

Dr Angus Burnett

Abstract

External stimulus/loading initiates adaptations within skeletal muscle. Whilst performing flying manoeuvres under +Gz it has been previously found that the cervical area has the highest loading. The purpose of this study was to examine cervical muscle response to moderate +Gz force (+4-6Gz) loading generated during RAAF pilot training. Cervical muscle strength was monitored in nine RAAF pilots completing an eight-month flight training course and ten controls matched for gender, age, height and weight. Cervical muscle strength and range of movement were measured at baseline and at eight months using the Multi-Cervical Rehabilitation Unit (Hanoun, Canada). Also measured, using EMG, was the activation of sternocleidomastoid and erector spinae muscles for a test pilot during simulated flight training. The statistical procedure used was a comparison in the difference between the pilots and control subjects for baseline and post-testing in neck strength and range of movement using an unpaired t-test. Statistical significance was accepted at p<0.05. Results indicated that an increase in neck strength was limited to the pilot's neutral flexion position. No strength changes were recorded in any other site in the pilots or for the controls. Two significant changes occurred in range of movement; a decrease in flexion and an increase in lateral flexion to the left in the control group. EMG results found that the sternocleidomastoid (97.8%) is used predominantly when executing a right twist head movement whilst completing a +3Gz left tum in the Pilatus PC-9. When executing a series of manoeuvres it was found the erector spinae was activated at a high level (89.5% MVC). Fatigue in this area may occur over time making this a priority area for strengthening as it may be highly susceptible to injury. These findings support the notion that exposure to +Gz has limited effect on increasing cervical muscle strength. Neck strength training outside of the aircraft may be warranted in order to prevent neck injuries whilst flying.

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