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Physical Therapy keeps pilots right for flight

Physical therapy

U.S. Air Force Capt. Will Piepenbring, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot with the 25th Fighter Squadron, performs a postural exercise at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Feb. 13, 2019. The exercise focuses on working scapular muscles and shoulder blades. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)

Physical therapy

A U.S. Air Force Airman performs a physical therapy exercise with an elastic band at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Feb. 12, 2019. The 51st Medical Operations Squadron physical therapy office implemented a post-flight checklist to minimize the effects of flying and aide recovery for pilots due to the prolonged sitting while flying aircraft and dealing with gravitational forces from maneuvers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Sergio A. Gamboa)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --

One Osan unit took innovation to new heights by implementing a post-flight checklist to make sure pilots are ready to take their next flight.

The 51st Medical Operations Squadron (MDOS) physical therapy office began building relationships with Osan fighter squadrons to bridge the gap between pilots and their physical therapy healthcare.

“The goal is to improve recovery time for pilots between flights and make sure they are fit to fight as soon as possible,” said Capt. Anna Adkins, physical therapist with the 51st MDOS.

To minimize the effects of flying and aide recovery, the physical therapists have set up satellite clinics with fighter squadrons every Wednesday and Friday to help assist with exercises and manual therapy procedures.

“What we are doing is new at Osan, and we hope to continue this relationship between the pilots and the 51st MDOS despite physical therapist turnover,” said Adkins.

Pilots can get back, shoulder, head and neck pain due to the prolonged sitting while flying aircraft and dealing with gravitational forces from maneuvers, she added.

If pilots need more than a post-flight check and adjustment, they will be recommended for physical therapy sessions with a technician. There, technicians will help with more in-depth exercises and procedures.

“We are human maintainers,” said Staff Sgt. Hannah Eddings, physical medicine technician with the 51 MDOS. “Getting pilots fit to perform their mission is vital to the base. They are an important piece in upholding the Osan mission and keeping 51 million people on the Korean Peninsula safe.”