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Cognitive responses to hypobaric hypoxia: implications for aviation training

Authors Neuhaus C, Hinkelbein J

Received 1 September 2014

Accepted for publication 8 October 2014

Published 10 November 2014 Volume 2014:7 Pages 297—302

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S51844

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman


Christopher Neuhaus,1,2 Jochen Hinkelbein2,3

1Department of Anesthesiology, Heidelberg University Hospital, Ruprecht Karls University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, 2Emergency Medicine and Air Rescue Working Group, German Society of Aviation and Space Medicine (DGLRM), Munich, 3Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University Hospital of Cologne, Cologne, Germany

Abstract: The aim of this narrative review is to provide an overview on cognitive responses to hypobaric hypoxia and to show relevant implications for aviation training. A principal element of hypoxia-awareness training is the intentional evocation of hypoxia symptoms during specific training sessions within a safe and controlled environment. Repetitive training should enable pilots to learn and recognize their personal hypoxia symptoms. A time span of 3–6 years is generally considered suitable to refresh knowledge of the more subtle and early symptoms especially. Currently, there are two different technical approaches available to induce hypoxia during training: hypobaric chamber training and reduced-oxygen breathing devices. Hypoxia training for aircrew is extremely important and effective, and the hypoxia symptoms should be emphasized clearly to aircrews. The use of tight-fitting masks, leak checks, and equipment checks should be taught to all aircrew and reinforced regularly. It is noteworthy that there are major differences in the required quality and quantity of hypoxia training for both military and civilian pilots.

Keywords: cognitive response, aviation training, pilot, hypoxia, oxygen, loss of consciousness

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