Introduction: Air force pilots have great postural control, movement coordination, motor learning, and motor transformation. They undergo abnormal stresses during flight that affect their organs and systems, with consequences such as barodontalgia, bruxism, TMJ dysfunctions, and cervical pain. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of dental occlusion and vision on their body posture.
Methods: In collaboration with the "A. Mosso" Legal Medical Institute (Aeronautica Militare), two groups, consisting of 20 air force and 20 civilian pilots, were selected for the study using a protocol approved by the Italian Air Force. An oral examination and a force platform test were performed in order to evaluate the subjects' postural system efficiency. A MANOVA (Multivariate analysis of variance) analysis was performed by using the Wilkes' criterion, in order to statistically evaluate the influence of each factor.
Results: Both the sway area and velocity parameters are very strongly influenced by vision: the sway area increases by approximately 32% and the sway velocity increases by approximately 50% when the pilot closes his eyes. Only the sway area parameter was significantly influenced by the mandibular position: the mandibular position with eyes open changed the sway area by about 51% and with eyes closed by about 40%. No statistically significant differences were found between air force and civilian pilots.
Discussion: The results of this analysis show that occlusion and visual function could influence posture in air force and civilian pilots.