Date of this Version
American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2015
Background: Aeromedical evacuation providers care for patients during air transport. By applying standard medical practices, oftentimes developed for ground care, these practitioners perform their mission duties under additional physical stress in this unique medical environment. Awkward postures and excessive forces are common occurrences among personnel operating in this domain. Additionally, anecdotal reports highlight the risk of developing musculoskeletal injuries for these providers. Currently, there is limited research focusing on musculoskeletal injuries in aeromedical evacuation providers.
Purpose: To determine the prevalence of musculoskeletal injuries and associated symptoms in aeromedical evacuation providers to understand the risk and burden of these injuries to military personnel.
Methods: This study utilized a retrospective review of military medical records containing ICD-9 codes to investigate the incidence of musculoskeletal injuries within flight nurses and medical technicians compared to their non-flying counterparts from 2006 through 2011. Data were analyzed from 2013 through 2014.
Results: Although musculoskeletal injuries were identified within the test populations, results showed fewer injuries for aeromedical evacuation populations compared to non–aeromedical evacuation counterparts.
Conclusions: One contributing factor may be a potential under-reporting of musculoskeletal injuries resulting from the fear of being placed on limited flying status. As flyers, aeromedical evacuation personnel must undergo yearly medical examinations and complete training courses that emphasize proper lifting techniques and physical requirements necessary for the safe and efficient transport of patients on various platforms. These additional requirements may create a healthy worker effect, likely contributing to lower musculoskeletal injuries.