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Occupationally related musculoskeletal disorders among airline pilots

1 May 1991


The purpose of this study was to examine the incidence of musculoskeletal disorders in airline pilots. Data were collected on fifty-one male airline pilots (31 Captains, 20 First Officers) with 1 to 31 flying years with an airline, who were recruited at a major international airport in the United States. Each pilot completed a survey that gathered personal descriptive data, location of any type of pain experienced while flying and attitudes towards medical intervention. Each pilot's grip strength and lumbar spine range of motion (ROM) were also measured. The results of this descriptive study reveal that this is a very motivated occupation group that takes an active role in its healthcare. This study also revealed the airline pilots have a high incidence of musculoskeletal pain that is negatively correlated to lumbar spine ROM (r=-.80). Airline pilots also have different grip strength measures and patterns when compared to normalized data. The information gathered gives adequate evidence to support the need for specific intervention strategies to decrease the incidence of cumulative traumas to the musculoskeletal system of the airline pilot. Such strategies might increase flight safety and years of productive flying as well as decrease sick time and medical expenses.


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