Flight Bags as a Cause of Back Injuries Among Commercial Pilots

This article reports on a study that investigated the possible role of flight bags as a cause of back injuries among commercial pilots. The authors note that low back pain in this population is among the most common and costly workplace injury, though relatively little is known about causes of back injuries among pilots. The awkward lifting and twisting maneuvers in the flight deck to position flight bags has not previously been described as a cause of occupational back injury among pilots. The authors conducted by a retrospective review of charts at an airport-based clinic to identify and describe a case series of low back injuries among pilots. Characteristics of the cases included circumstances of occupational back injury, initial direct medical costs, treatment, and work status following evaluation. The authors identified 37 occupational low back injuries among 35 pilots that were evaluated and treated over a 6-year period. Of these, 24 (65%) involved flight bags. Only 27% of pilots with flight bag-associated injuries were returned to work after initial evaluation; medications with sedating properties were frequently required for treatment. The authors conclude by recommending that electronic flight bags (documentation for the flight on electronic devices) be substituted for traditional flight bags as one means to avoid occupational low back injuries in pilots.


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  • Accession Number: 01573482
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 14 2015 2:05PM