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Aviation medicine

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Aviation medicine

Aviation medicine, also called flight medicine or aerospace medicine, is a preventive or occupational medicine in which the patients/subjects are pilots, aircrews, or astronauts. The specialty strives to treat or prevent conditions to which aircrews are particularly susceptible, applies medical knowledge to the human factors in aviation and is thus a critical component of aviation safety. A military practitioner of aviation medicine may be called a flight surgeon and a civilian practitioner is an aviation medical examiner. One of the biggest differences between the military and civilian flight docs is the military flight surgeon's requirement to log flight hours.



Broadly defined, this subdiscipline endeavors to discover and prevent various adverse physiological responses to hostile biologic and physical stresses encountered in the aerospace environment. Problems range from life support measures for astronauts to recognizing an ear block in an infant traveling on an airliner with elevated cabin pressure altitude. Aeromedical certification of pilots, aircrew and patients is also part of Aviation Medicine. A final subdivision is the AeroMedical Transportation Specialty. These military and civilian specialists are concerned with protecting aircrew and patients who are transported by AirEvac aircraft (helicopters or fixed-wing airplanes).

Atmospheric physics potentially affect all air travelers regardless of the aircraft. As humans ascend through the first 9100–12,300 m (30,000–40,000 ft), temperature decreases linearly at an average rate of 2 °C (3.6 °F) per 305 m (1000 ft). If sea-level temperature is 16 °C (60 °F), the outside air temperature is approximately −57 °C (−70 °F) at 10,700 m (35,000 ft). Pressure and humidity also decline, and aircrew are exposed to radiation, vibration and acceleration forces (the latter are also known as "g" forces). Aircraft life support systems such as oxygen, heat and pressurization are the first line of defense against most of the hostile aerospace environment. Higher performance aircraft will provide more sophisticated life support equipment such as "G-suits" to help the body resist acceleration, and pressure breathing apparatus or ejection seats or other escape equipment.

Every factor contributing to a safe flight has a failure rate. The crew of an aircraft is no different. Aviation medicine aims to keep this rate in the humans involved equal to or below a specified risk level. This standard of risk is also applied to airframe, avionics and systems associated with flights.

AeroMedical examinations aim at screening for elevation in risk of sudden incapacitation, such as a tendency towards myocardial infarction (heart attacks), epilepsy or the presence of metabolic conditions diabetes, etc. which may lead to hazardous condition at altitude. The goal of the AeroMedical Examination is to protect the life and health of pilots and passengers by making reasonable medical assurance that an individual is fit to fly. Other screened conditions such as colour blindness can prevent a person from flying because of an inability to perform a function that is necessary. In this case to tell green from red. These specialized medical exams consist of physical examinations performed by an Aviation Medical Examiner or a military Flight Surgeon, doctors trained to screen potential aircrew for identifiable medical conditions that could lead to problems while performing airborne duties. In addition, this unique population of aircrews is a high-risk group for several diseases and harmful conditions due to irregular work shifts with irregular sleeping and irregular meals (usually carbonated drinks and high energy snacks) and work-related stress.

Flight Nursing Along with aeromedical physicians and physicians’ assistants, there are also aeromedical nurses and nurse practitioners. These nurses are responsible for managing proper patient care. They provide comfortable transport of the patient while also ensuring patient safety. Other tasks they are responsible for include administering medication to patients, planning out flight missions, treating and dressing wounds, blood transfusions, acts as intermediary piece of communication between the flight crew and aero-medical crew, uses medical machinery, equipment and technology. There are two types of nurses who work in aero-med, civilian flight nurses, and military nurses. • Civilian Flight Nurses work mostly as transport nurse for local, state, and federal governments, hospitals, fire departments, private medical companies, etc. • Military nurses are part of aero-med evacuation crews, and work as a medical member. They provide care for military patients providing comfort and safety to their patients. They work in hostile environments where they are responsible for monitoring them and transporting them to get medical treatment. They also perform follow-up checks on their patients. The goal for military flight nurses is to help soldiers recover so they can go back onto the battlefield. They also help deal with any mental health issues they may be having. There are different specialties that flight nurses have. For example they may hold a certification as a Critical Care Registered Nurse, a Certified Flight Registered Nurse, or a Certified Emergency Nurse. In modern day, flight nurses are in high demand. Most flight nurse jobs require nurses to have many years of experience working in the ICU or emergency medicine. They also have to have a background in the fields of vasoactive medications, mechanical ventilation, hemodynamic support, etc. The flight nursing profession also requires the knowledge of natural disasters. For example, flight nurses save people injured in floods or hurricanes, or those trapped in buildings. The Importance of Flight Nurses Play the most important role in ensuring the rescue, care and survival of patients and military personnel who are faced with traumas. Flight nurses have the quick ability to quickly get into hard to reach areas that ambulances or other ground crews cannot get to.

Difference between Physicians and Nurses in Aero-Medicine • Physicians- Flight physician is a doctor who works on board an aircraft. Plays a role in making sure injured patients receive the proper medication and treatment. They may perform emergency surgical operations on-board. • Nurses- Evacuate patients, provide patients with a comfortable transport, monitor vitals, provide IV’s, dress wounds, apply splints to broken bones, administer medications, supplies and equipment. In some cases they plan evacuation missions and coordinate plans with pilot and medical crew to ensure proper procedures are being taken. The nurse does an aircraft check-up, making sure equipment is charged and medications are in stock. Flight nurses need to be patient, caring, and calm in order to keep the situation under control and ensuring their patient is okay (Becoming A..) Aero-medical nurses can be RN’s, and they can also be Nurse Practitioners. The work that Nurse Practitioners do can be closely related to that of a Physician. Nurse Practitioners- hold a Bachelor’s degree in nursing and clinical hours, they do not have to complete a residency, they have a Master’s degree, they are also allowed to practice independently. Nurse Practitioners assist in surgery, and they can write prescriptions, conduct physical exams, diagnose, treat illness, and give patient counseling. Physicians- Have to complete 2 years in classroom and 2 years in a clinic. They have to complete a residency of 3-8 years. They have to earn a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathics. They can be an independent practitioner, perform surgery, deliver babies, write prescriptions, prescribe controlled substances, conduct physical exams, diagnose, treat illness, order and interpret tests, patient counseling (Pasquini, 2015).

Additional reading

  • Zadik, Y; Chapnik, L; Goldstein, L. "In-Flight Barodontalgia: Analysis of 29 Cases in Military Aircrew". Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  • Zadik, Y. "Barodontalgia Due to Odontogenic Inflammation in the Jawbone". Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  • Zadik, Y. "Dental Fractures on Acute Exposure to High Altitude". Retrieved 2008-07-15. 
  • References

    Aviation medicine Wikipedia

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