A Neck Load Monitoring System

    Research output: Contribution to conference (non-published works)Abstract


    Background: Neck pain is an international concern for both fixed and rotary wing aircrew. Helmet design, helmet mounted masses, head checks, high Gz manoeuvres, sustained postures, platform vibration and long flights are all thought to contribute. More capable aircraft, more sophisticated helmet mounted masses will likely increase the problem. Measuring neck force magnitude, site and repetition is important for understanding both cause and mitigation of this widespread problem.
    Following success of load monitoring for reducing musculoskeletal injury in elite sports, we have developed a prototype neck force monitoring system for fast jet pilots. The same system could readily be deployed for rotary wing aircrew.

    A system of systems:
    Passive Inertial Sensors- Integral to our monitoring system is a specialised inertial sensor. Due to the highly secure cockpit environment and the requirement for passive only sensors, our system is able discern head on trunk co-ordinates, relative to the airframe with accuracy within 1 degree.
    Head position machine learner- through a series of studies and simulations we have been able to develop an algorithm that classifies with 96-100% accuracy each head movement or task, to calculate frequency of specific postures and time held.
    Helmet modelling system- through an application of both computer simulation and 3-dimensional motion capture of typical aircrew tasks, we have the capacity to create neck load models for any helmet, if given the inertial properties of the helmet and associated configurations.
    Neck Workload Modelling -by combining the helmet modelling system, the passive inertial sensor data and the head position machine learner we can calculate the neck force applied to aircrew throughout a flight or series of flights, down to the level of a single vertebra or muscle. When the system has been tested against lab based calculations error is minimal (R2=0.994, RMSE=1.129).
    Conclusions: This system of systems is the only of its kind that can measure dynamic neck loads in aircrew. Load monitoring is vital in order to better understand and manage the risk of neck pain in aircrew.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2020
    EventDefence Human Sciences Symposium 2020 - Deakin University, Geelong, Australia
    Duration: 7 Dec 20209 Dec 2020


    ConferenceDefence Human Sciences Symposium 2020
    Abbreviated titleDHSS 2020


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