An Integrated Musculoskeletal Countermeasure Battery for Long-Duration Lunar Missions

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Investigator: Thomas F. Lang, PhD
Sponsor: National Space Biomedical Research Institute

Location(s): United States

Description

It is unknown how well the musculoskeletal system will hold up during long stays in the reduced gravity of the lunar surface. It's likely that without countermeasures, there will be adaptive changes in muscle strength, bone mineral density, bone geometry and sensorimotor ability. Considering the construction and exploration tasks inherent in operating a lunar base, the risk of injury is elevated.

Dr. Thomas F. Lang and colleagues are testing a novel exercise device that combines balance and coordination training with resistance exercises designed to target specific muscle groups at the hip and lower extremity. They are currently carrying out a study in normal volunteers to assess the ability of the device to produce improvements in strength and endurance. The next goal will be to test the device in a bed-rest study. Using pre- and post-bed-rest comparisons of aerobic capacity, balance, muscle strength, biochemical and imaging-based measures of skeletal metabolism, density and strength, the team will determine whether the countermeasure preserves fall and injury-related indices of neuromuscular performance while maintaining skeletal integrity and cardiovascular function.