Posture and Helmet Configuration Effects on Joint Reaction Loads in the Middle Cervical Spine.Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2022 May 01; 93(5):458-466.AM
INTRODUCTION: Between 43 and 97% of helicopter pilots in the Canadian Armed Forces report neck pain. Potential contributing factors include the weight of their helmet, night vision goggles (NVG), and counterweight (CW) combined with deviated neck postures. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation was to quantify changes in neck loads associated with posture, helmet, NVG, and CW.METHODS: Eight male subjects volunteered. They undertook one of five deviated neck postures (flexion, extension, lateral bending, axial rotation) times four configurations (no helmet, helmet only, helmet and NVG, and helmet, NVG, and CW). 3D kinematics and EMG from 10 muscles (5 bilaterally) drove a 3D inverse dynamics, EMG-driven model of the cervical spine which calculated joint compression and shear at C5-C6.RESULTS: The compression in the neutral posture was 116.5 (5.7) N, which increased to 143.7 (11.4) N due to a 12.7 N helmet. NVGs, weighing 7.9 N, also generated this disproportionate increase, where the compression was 164.2 (3.7) N. In flexion or extension, the compression increased with increasing head-supported mass, with a maximum of 315.8 (67.5) N with the CW in flexion. Anteroposterior shear was highest in the lateral bending [34.0 (6.2) N] condition, but was generally low (< 30 N). Mediolateral shear was less than 5 N for all conditions.DISCUSSION: Repositioning the center of gravity of the helmet with either NVGs or CW resulted in posture-specific changes to loading. Posture demonstrated a greater potential to reposition the head segment's center of gravity compared to the helmet design. Therefore, helmet designs which consider repositioning the center of gravity may reduce loads in one posture, but likely exacerbate loading in other postures.Barrett JM, McKinnon CD, Dickerson CR, Laing AC, Callaghan JP. Posture and helmet configuration effects on joint reaction loads in the middle cervical spine. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2022; 93(5):458-466.