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    NMOTC investigates strategies for in-flight physiologic events like hypoxia

    NMOTC investigates strategies for in-flight physiologic events like hypoxia

    Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Lieberknecht | 171027-N-AO823-007 PENSACOLA (Oct. 27, 2017)— Lt. Clayton Shaw, an instructor pilot...... read more read more

    PENSACOLA (Nov. 09, 2017) – Navy Aerospace Medical Institute (NAMI), a detachment of Navy Medicine Operational Training Center (NMOTC), is host to scientific research using a new technology that could potentially become an early-warning signal to military pilots who are experiencing inflight physiologic events such as hypoxia.

    The senior medical officer of Naval Aviation Schools Command (NASC), who coordinates all NAMI research, is working with new Electroencephalogram (EEG) technology for use in hypoxia detection.

    Capt. G. Merrill Rice began the project in September, partnering with a team from the University of West Florida (UWF), the Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC), and Naval Aerospace Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio.

    “This collaboration has put forth a protocol to evaluate newer EEG technologies to see if we can monitor the pilot’s brainwaves while in extreme environments,” said Rice.

    Hypoxia is a deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching tissues in the body, and can carry symptoms of confusion, rapid heart rate and shortness of breath. Navy pilots training in the T-45 and pilots flying the F/A-18 Super Hornet and even the new F-35 have reported physiological episodes as a result of oxygen deprivation. NAMI’s latest project is just one of many ongoing efforts to mitigate these episodes.

    Helping make the project possible is the departure from “wet” gels and the multiple wires associated with traditional EEGs. Conventional EEG equipment is perhaps best known for its use in sleep studies and evaluating seizure-type disorders. Instead, Rice is using new EEG technology that is wireless and uses highly conductive retractable silver coated electrodes.

    Rice said the primary objective of this protocol is to detect brainwave patterns that correlate with a reduction in oxygen saturation and subsequently a reduction in cognitive performance. If the group accomplishes this goal, the next phase would be to evaluate the technology in actual flight helmets where the data could be used as an early-warning sign for pilots who have become hypoxic or fatigued.

    Each study session begins with research team members explaining to volunteer subjects exactly what the process is and the sensations they might experience while becoming oxygen deprived.

    Subjects are then fitted with a standard aviation flight mask, which is connected to the Reduced Oxygen Breathing Device (ROBD). The ROBD was co-developed by Rice and is used by NMOTC to train about 18,000 pilots and aircrew students a year. The Dry-EEG is then placed on the subject’s head and is calibrated for each individual’s normal cognitive performance range. The subject is then given trials on a flight simulator at various altitudes and assorted levels of low- to high-stress environments.

    Rear Adm. Kyle Cozad, commander Naval Education and Training Command, visited NAMI Nov. 9 to observe the project in action, taking note of the potential impact the research could have on the future of Navy Medicine aviation training.

    “Independent of the recent physiological episode events we’ve seen in the fleet, the research Capt. Rice and his team are conducting eventually points to a key enabler, and that is maintaining peak human performance in our fleet aircraft,” said Cozad.

    Rice says this first phase of the project should be complete in March, and preliminary results have been very promising. If these initial results hold true, the group is shooting for equipment integration and testing with next-generation helmets for late 2018 and into 2019, pending further funding.
    “I’m very excited about the potential of this technology in our next-generation helmets,” Rice said. “It’s motivating knowing our team’s hard work and ingenuity could save lives and help keep pilots and flight crews ready, healthy and on the job. That’s what our team, NAMI and Navy Medicine are all about.”
    NMOTC and its detachments are part of the Navy Medicine team, a global health care network of Navy medical professionals around the world who provide high-quality health care to more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ships, in the air, under the sea, and on the battlefield.



    Date Taken: 11.09.2017
    Date Posted: 11.30.2017 14:14
    Story ID: 256949
    Location: PENSACOLA, FL, US

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