Psychomotor performance of Polish Air Force cadets after 36 hours of survival training

Andrzej Tomczak 1  ,  
University of Physical Education in Warsaw, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport in Biala Podlaska, Poland
Mossakowski Medical Research Centre, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2017;24(3):387–391
The preparation of Polish Air Force cadets for survival in isolation is a necessary element of their training, to demonstrate just how difficult can be the conditions they could encounter in a combat situation. Objective. The aim of the research was to assess the effect of long-term survival training on selected coordination motor skills in Air Force cadets.

Material and Methods:
Fifteen air force cadets aged 19.6±0.3 years exercised for 36 hours during survival training without the possibility to sleep. They were examined 4 times: Day 1 – before effort (training), Day 2 – after 24 hours training, Day 3 – directly after 36 hours training, Day 4 – next day, after an all night rest. They were examined for shooting and reaction time, the ability to maintain body balance, running motor adjustment, handgrip force differentiation, and on Days 1 and 3, exercise capacity was evaluated with a 1 mile walking test.

The survival training resulted in significant decreases in maximum handgrip strength, corrected 50% max handgrip, maintenance of body balance and heart rate. No changes occurred in reaction time, running motor adjustment and shooting performance. Overnight rest did not result in recovery of any of the examined factors to the values observed on Day 1.

Survival training combined with sleep deprivation mostly affected peripheral factors depending on strong action from both muscles and nervous system, whereas complex tasks involving short-term central alertness and moderate exertion were maintained. In order to improve performance, more endurance strength training, if possible combined with sleep deprivation, should be introduced in military training.

Andrzej Tomczak   
University of Physical Education in Warsaw, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport in Biala Podlaska, Poland
1. Flanagan SC, Kotwal RS, Forsten RD. Preparing soldiers for the stress of combat. J Spec Oper Med. 2012; 12(2): 33–41.
2. Eid J, Matthews MD, Meland NT, Johnsen BH. Dispositional optimism and self-assessed situation awareness in a Norwegian military training exercise. Percept Mot Skills 2005 June; 100(3 Pt 1): 649–58.
3. Lieberman HR, Niro P, Tharion WJ, Nindl BC, Castellani JW, Montain SJ. Cognition during sustained operations: comparison of a laboratory simulation to field studies. Aviat Space Environ Med. 2006; 77(9): 929–935.
4. Miller NL, Matsangas P, Shattuck LG. Fatigue and its effect on performance in military envinronments. In: Hancock PA, Szalma JL, eds. Performance under stress. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing 2008: 231–50.
5. Koulmann N, Sanches H, Pons C, Simler N, Pla S, Cabelle D, Banzet S, Cian C, Bigard X. Evaluation of physiological and cognitive responses after 5 days of field survival conditions. In: Hakkinen K, Kyröläinen H, Taipale R. editors. Proccedings of the 2nd International congress on soldiers` physical performance, Jyväskylä, Finland; 2011, 238.
6. Taylor MC, Stanfill KE, Padilla GA, Markham AE, Ward MD, Koehler MM. Effect of psychological skills training during military survival school: a randomized, controlled field study. Military Medicine 2011; 176(12): 1362–8.
7. Mikulski T, Tomczak A, Lejk P, Klukowski K. Influence of ultra long exercise and sleep deprivation on physical performance of healthy men. Med Sport. 2006; 10(4): 98–101.
8. Dąbrowski J, Ziemba A, Tomczak A, Mikulski T. Physical performance of healthy men exposed to long exercise and sleep deprivation. Med Sport. 2012; 16(1): 6–11.
9. Tomczak A. Effects of winter survival training on selected motor indices. Biomedical Human Kinetics 2010; 2: 62–65.
10. Tomczak A. Coordination motor skills of military pilots subjected to survival training. J Strenght Cond Res. 2015; 29(9): 2460–2464.
11. Riikonen SM, Tanskanen J, Vaara H, Kyröläinen H. Physical performance and somatic, psychological and flu-like symptoms before and after 8 days of military field training. In: Hakkinen K, Kyröläinen H, Taipale R. editors. Proccedings of the 2nd International congress on soldiers` physical performance, Jyväskylä, Finland, 2011; 189.
12. Huang GH, Lovalekar M, Abt JP, Sell TC, Lephart SM. Interaction of military load carriage and fatigue on postural sway in young, healthy, subjects. Platform session presented at: 2nd International Congress on Soldiers’ Physical Performance; 2011 May 4–7; Jyväskylä, Finland.
13. Schiffman JM , Bensel CK, Hasselquist L, Gregorczyk KN, Piscitelle L. Effects of carried weight on random motion and traditional measures of postural sway. Appl Ergon. 2006; 37(5): 607–14.
14. Heller MF, Challis JH, Sharkey NA. Changes in postural sway as a consequence of wearing a military backpack. Gait Posture 2009; 30(1): 115–7.
15. Tomczak A. Effects of a 3–day survival training on selected coordination motor skills of special unit soldiers. Arch Budo, 2013; 3: 168–172.
16. Tomczak A, Kalina RM. Appraisal of soldiers’ acquired skills for surviving in conditions of isolation. In: M. Sokołowski (ed.) Morphofunctional aspects of selection of soldiers for realization of tasks in the army formations. Polish Scientific Physical Education Association. 2007; 11: 84–100.
17. Jagiełło W, Wójcicki Z, Barczyński BJ, Litwiniuk A, Kalina RM. Optimal body balance disturbance tolerance skills as a methodological basis for selection of firefighters to solve difficult rescue tasks. Ann Agric Environ Med. 2014; 21(1): 148–155.
18. Kliene GM, Porcari JP, Hintermeister R, Freedson PS, Ward A, Mccarron RF, Ross J, Rippe JM. Estimation of VO2max from a one-mile track walk, gender, age and body weight. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1987; 19: 253–59.
19. Tharion WJ, Shukitt-Hale B, Lieberman HR. Caffeine effects on marksmanship during high-stress military training with 72 hour sleep deprivation. Aviat Space Environ Med. 2003; 74(4): 309–14.
20. Wesenten NJ. Effects of modafinil on cognitive performance and alertness during sleep deprivation. Curr Pham Des. 2006; 12(20): 2457–71.
21. Killgore WD, Balkin TJ, Wesensten NJ. Impaired decision making following 49 h of sleep deprivation. J Sleep Res. 2006; 15(1): 7–13.
22. Wojtkowiak M, Truszczyński O, Kowalczyk K. Set of exercises increasing acceleration tolerance in the high performance aircraft. Phys Edu And Sport. 2006; 4: 113–118.
23. Gutierrez-Sánchez A, Soria-Domínguez A, Pérez-Turpin JA, Cortell-Tormo JM, Liorca CS. Importance of hand-grip strength as an indicator for predicting the results of competitions of young judokas. Arch Budo. 2011; 7(3): 167–72.
24. Cortell-Tormo JM, Perez-Turpin JA, Lucas-Cuevas ÁG, Persz-Soriano P, Llana-Belloch S, Martinez-Patiño MJ. Handgrip strength and hand dimensions in high-level inter-university judoists Arch Budo. 2013; 9(1): 21–28.
25. Crowley SK, Wilkinson LL, Burroughs EL, Muraca ST, Wigfall LT, Louis-Nance T, Williams EM, Glover SH, Youngstedt SD. Sleep During Basic Combat Training: A Qualitative Study. Military Medicine 2012; 177(7): 823–828(6).
26. Larsem B, Netto K, Skovli D, Vincs K, Vu S,; Aisbett B. Body Armor, Performance, and Physiology During Repeated High-Intensity Work Tasks. Military Medicine 2012; 177(11): 1308–1315(8).
27. Rynkiewicz T, Starosta W, Bugaj T, Kos H, Rynkiewicz M, Żurek P. Effects of special equipment on physical fitness of Polish Border Guards. In: M. Sokołowski (ed.) A diagnosis of physical fitness in the contemporary army. Polish Scientific Physical Education Association, 2011; 183–192.