Introduction: Advances in flight technologies and the demand for long-range flight have increased mission lengths for U.S. Army Black Hawk UH-60 crewmembers. Prolonged mission times have increased reports of pilot discomfort and symptoms of paresthesia thought to be due to UH-60 seat design and areas of locally high pressure. Discomfort created by the seat-system decreases situational awareness, putting aviators and support crew at risk of injury. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the effects of prolonged restricted sitting in a UH-60 on discomfort, sensory function, and vascular measures in the lower extremities. Methods: There were 15 healthy men (age = 23.4 ± 3.1 yr) meeting physical flight staus requirements who sat in an unpadded, UH-60 pilot ' s seat for 4 h while completing a common cognitive task. During the session, subjective discomfort, sensory function, and vascular function were measured. Results: Across 4 h of restricted sitting, subjective discomfort increased using the Category Partitioning Scale (30.27 point increase) and McGill Pain Questionnaire (8.53 point increase); lower extremity sensory function was diminished along the S1 dermatome; and skin temperature decreased on both the lateral (2.85°C decrease) and anterior (2.78°C decrease) aspects of the ankle. Discussion: The results suggest that prolonged sitting in a UH-60 seat increases discomfort, potentially through a peripheral nervous or vascular system mechanism. Further research is needed to understand the etiology and onset of pain and paresthesia during prolonged sitting in UH-60 pilot seats.
- Cumulative trauma disorders