Minimization of Chronic Back Pain in Military Pilots and Vehicle Occupants
Low back pain attributed to piloting military air vehicles is a significant operational and health problem. The major contributors of lumbar pain have been thought to be seating, task posture and vibration. As the asymptomatic pilot starts to experience pain, repeated painful episodes lead to pain sensitization and chronic pain with possible damage. At this stage pilot readiness is reduced and operational availability may be impacted. Improving the pilot"s operational situation and health protection may be accomplished through improvements in crew station, seating, procedure enhancements, training, and other means. Because of limitations of human pain experiments mathematical modeling of spinal biomechanics and pain neurobiology may provide invaluable help in prediction and mitigation of back pain in military pilots, and operators of combat vehicles. We propose to integrate existing FEM biomechanics models of a human body and spine with mathematical models of pain neurobiology and use them to analyze them to simulate a response of an occupant to the inertial and positional stressors. The pain model will combine mechanical, physiological and biochemical mechanisms of nociception, neuronal transmission, sensitization and perception of pain in spinal structures including intervertebral discs, spinal nerves, ligaments and muscles and facets. . This multi-scale human body, spinal column and pain model will be used to"expose"a simulated occupant to various loads: inertial, vibration, seating (geometry and cushions), restraints, and protective clothing/equipment. The validated model will be used for Use the model to analyze existing operational procedures and propose improved operational guidelines.
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