Local pressure application effects on neurological and circulatory function

Kenneth E. Games, Joni M. Lakin, John C. Quindry, Wendi H. Weimar, Jo Ellen M. Sefton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Pain and discomfort reported during sitting is a significant problem for aviators during prolonged missions. Previous work has determined that areas of local pressure exist during prolonged sitting in UH-60 seat systems; however, no work has examined the effects of this local pressure on measures of neurological and circulatory function. METHODS: A total of 30 healthy subjects completed the study in which focal pressure was applied in three conditions (no pressure, pressure to the ischial tuberosity, and pressure to the posterior thigh). We applied pressure using a purpose-built pressure application system allowing subjects to sit in a position mimicking the sitting position in a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and measurements were taken before, during, and after pressure application. We measured neurological function with the soleus Hoffmann reflex and sural nerve conduction velocity, and circulatory function with dynamic infrared thermography. RESULTS: We found a decrease in soleus Hoffmann reflex by 0.87 V and 0.52 V during pressure application at the posterior thigh and ischial tuberosity, respectively. No changes in nerve conduction velocity were found among the conditions during or after pressure application. Limb temperature increased 0.42-0.44°C during pressure application, but began to return to baseline once pressure was removed. DISCUSSION: This study examined the development of neurological and circulatory alterations due to local pressure application in an aviation specific functional position. These results may be used in the development of future interventions to mitigate the negative effects of localized pressure in military aviators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-699
Number of pages7
JournalAerospace Medicine and Human Performance
Volume89
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018

Keywords

  • Aviators
  • Military
  • Operational load-bearing

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