Monitoring Bone Health by Daily Load Stimulus Measurement during Lunar Mission

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

Location(s): United States


One of the key questions that remains unanswered as we prepare to send humans to other planetary surfaces is the degree to which living and exercising in these reduced gravity environments will provide an osteoprotective stimulus to prevent the loss of bone mineral density (BMD) that has been observed in microgravity. The concept of daily load stimulus is useful in this regard since it has the potential to estimate the "dose" of load to the lower extremities that will maintain skeletal integrity even in the setting of concurrent therapeutic drug and exercise countermeasures. Most observers believe that some form of supplementary exercise will be required activity on the moon, Mars, or nearby asteroid, but this will need to be optimized to provide the most efficient use of crew time. Cavanagh et al. (J. Biomech., 2010) have recently published reports that, on average, only 43 minutes of the ~150 minutes assigned for exercise during a day resulted in loaded exercise. Given the continued loss of BMD observed in crew members after long-duration flights, this amount of loaded exercise is not enough to preserve an acceptable amount of bone strength.