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Activity title

Aircrew Neck Pain

Activity Reference



Human Factors and Medicine

Security Classification



Awaiting Publication

Activity type


Start date


End date



aircrew, equipment, neck pain, prevention, screening


Since all NATO nations possess helicopter and tactical jet aircrew, the problem is pervasive and supported by surveys published by individual nation over the last 10+ years. Therefore, to study the problem from a NATO perspective, the Human Factors and Medicine panel are recommending that an RTG study tackle the problem by leveraging the NATO Science and Technology (S&T) community and help coordinate the different NATO efforts that are already at play. Furthermore, with NATO nations cooperating and collaborating, by pooling S&T resources and expertise, not only is there an immediate path for burden sharing and mutual reliance towards solving this problem, new standardization and interoperability capabilities (ranging from aircrew screening, medical care, prevention tactics, equipment modifications, new equipment design, etc.) may emerge.


The overall objective of this NATO TG is to seek creative solutions including administrative, procedural, preventive and ergonomic/engineering measures. Additionally, the nature of the problem is such that a multi-disciplinary team including engineers, human system integration/ergonomics, physiologists, medical officers, physiotherapists and aircrew will be engaged.


1. Expand a currently deployed preventive neck exercise study led by US Navy (NAWCAD) to a multi-nation effort. 2. Update and standardize prevalence/incidence survey tools which can be used across participating nations. 3. Standardize electromyography procedures and analysis across participating nations 4. Share results and data used to validate finite analysis models of the neck and spine 5. Share best practices in aircrew recruitment and neck/back/spinal health screening 6. Share helmet fitting best practices and techniques (materials and methods) 7. Collaboratively draft and publish a comprehensive literature review on neck pain 8. Collaboratively investigate the feasibility of defining pain in the context of flight-induced neck pain syndromes, and implementing an aircrew-specific disability index 9. Collectively promote a professional athletic model towards career management of aircrew, which focuses on a whole-human performance enhancement and modern health care focus

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