Typical Cockpit Ergonomics Influence on Cervical Motor Control in Healthy Young Male Adults

Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2023 Mar 1;94(3):107-112. doi: 10.3357/AMHP.6096.2023.


INTRODUCTION: Neck pain and injury are common problems in military high-performance aircraft and helicopter aircrews. A contributing factor may be the reclined sitting position in cockpits. This study aimed to determine the effect of typical cockpit ergonomics on cervical proprioception, assessed by using the cervical joint position error (cJPE).METHODS: A total of 49 healthy male military employees (mean age 19.9 ± 2.2 yr) were examined. Measurements of the cJPE were obtained in the flexion, extension, and rotation directions in an upright and in a 30°-reclined sitting position. Each condition comprised three trials, with an additional 3-kg head load to mimic real world working conditions.RESULTS: A smaller cJPE was noted in the 30°-reclined sitting position (mean cJPE = 3.9 cm) than in the upright sitting position (mean cJPE = 4.6 cm) in the flexion direction. The cJPE decreased significantly in all movement directions across the three trials; for example, in the flexion direction in the 30°-reclined sitting position: Trial 1/2/3 mean cJPE = 5.0/3.8/3.1 cm.CONCLUSION: It seems that a reclined seating position has a positive influence on cJPE. However, the result is weak. In both sitting positions and all three directions, the first tests of the cJPE showed the highest values. Already after one or two further measurement runs, a significantly reduced cJPE was observed. This rapid improvement might indicate that an exercise similar to the cJPE test may improve the pilots' cervical proprioception and possibly reduce the risk of injury or pain.Heggli U, Swanenburg J, Hofstetter L, Häusler M, Schweinhardt P, Bron D. Typical cockpit ergonomics influence on cervical motor control in healthy young male adults. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2023; 94(3):107-112.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aircraft
  • Ergonomics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neck Pain*
  • Neck*
  • Proprioception
  • Young Adult