Self-Kinematic Training for Flight-Associated Neck Pain: a Randomized Controlled Trial: a Randomized Controlled Trial

Hilla Sarig Bahat, Dmitry German, Galia Palomo, Hila Gold, Yael Frankel Nir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Flight-associated neck pain (FANP) is a serious problem in fighter pilots. Despite the high impact of FANP there is little evidence for effective management. However, self-kinematic training showed a positive effect in the general population. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a self-kinematic training program using virtual reality in improving neck pain in fighter pilots.

METHODS: There were 45 pilots with FANP who were randomized to a control group (N 23) or a training group (N 22). Training participants were instructed to exercise using a personalized self-training program, for 20 min/wk, for 4 wk. Primary outcome measures were neck disability (NDI%) and mean velocity ( s1), and secondary were pain, health status, accuracy, and isometric strength. Assessments were conducted by a blinded assessor and intention-to-treat analysis by a blinded statistician.

RESULTS: There were 40 pilots who completed the postintervention assessments, and 35 completed the 6-mo follow-up. Baseline measurements showed mild pain and disability (mean VAS 43 22.73, NDI 17.76 9.59%) and high kinematic performance. Compliance with self-training was poor. No differences were observed in self-reported measures and strength. Exercise duration was correlated with NDI% improvement.

DISCUSSION: This self-kinematic training promoted kinematic performance, but was ineffective in engaging the pilots to exercise, and consequently did not improve pain and disability. Poor compliance was previously reported in self-training for FANP, suggesting further studies should prioritize supervised training. Considering the high baseline kinematic performance, kinematics does not seem to be a key factor in FANP, and future exercise research should aim for intense strengthening to increase endurance to the high Gz pilots experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)790-797
Number of pages8
JournalAerospace medicine and human performance
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© by the Aerospace Medical Association, Alexandria, VA. All rights reserved.


  • VR
  • cervical kinematics
  • neck pain
  • pilots
  • randomized controlled trial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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