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PLoS One. 2015 Aug 21;10(8):e0134736. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0134736. eCollection 2015.

Electrically Stimulated Antagonist Muscle Contraction Increased Muscle Mass and Bone Mineral Density of One Astronaut - Initial Verification on the International Space Station.

Author information

1
Department of Orthopedics, Kurume University School of Medicine, Kurume, Fukuoka, Japan; Division of Rehabilitation, Kurume University School of Medicine, Kurume, Fukuoka, Japan.
2
Division of Rehabilitation, Kurume University School of Medicine, Kurume, Fukuoka, Japan.
3
Division of Physical Therapy, Fukuoka International University of Health and Welfare, Okawa city, Fukuoka 8318501, Japan.
4
Department of Orthopedics, Kurume University School of Medicine, Kurume, Fukuoka, Japan.
5
Department of Mechanical and Control Engineering, Kyushu Institute of Technology, Kitakyushu, Fukuoka, Japan.
6
Space Environment Utilization Center, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Musculoskeletal atrophy is one of the major problems of extended periods of exposure to weightlessness such as on the International Space Station (ISS). We developed the Hybrid Training System (HTS) to maintain an astronaut's musculoskeletal system using an electrically stimulated antagonist to resist the volitional contraction of the agonist instead of gravity. The present study assessed the system's orbital operation capability and utility, as well as its preventative effect on an astronaut's musculoskeletal atrophy.

METHODS:

HTS was attached to the non-dominant arm of an astronaut staying on the ISS, and his dominant arm without HTS was established as the control (CTR). 10 sets of 10 reciprocal elbow curls were one training session, and 12 total sessions of training (3 times per week for 4 weeks) were performed. Pre and post flight ground based evaluations were performed by Biodex (muscle performance), MRI (muscle volume), and DXA (BMD, lean [muscle] mass, fat mass). Pre and post training inflight evaluations were performed by a hand held dynamometer (muscle force) and a measuring tape (upper arm circumference).

RESULTS:

The experiment was completed on schedule, and HTS functioned well without problems. Isokinetic elbow extension torque (Nm) changed -19.4% in HTS, and -21.7% in CTR. Isokinetic elbow flexion torque changed -23.7% in HTS, and there was no change in CTR. Total Work (Joule) of elbow extension changed -8.3% in HTS, and +0.3% in CTR. For elbow flexion it changed -23.3% in HTS and -32.6% in CTR. Average Power (Watts) of elbow extension changed +22.1% in HTS and -8.0% in CTR. For elbow flexion it changed -6.5% in HTS and -4.8% in CTR. Triceps muscle volume according to MRI changed +11.7% and that of biceps was +2.1% using HTS, however -0.1% and -0.4% respectively for CTR. BMD changed +4.6% in the HTS arm and -1.2% for CTR. Lean (muscle) mass of the arm changed only +10.6% in HTS. Fat mass changed -12.6% in HTS and -6.4% in CTR.

CONCLUSIONS:

These results showed the orbital operation capability and utility, and the preventive effect of HTS for an astronaut's musculoskeletal atrophy. The initial flight data together with the ground data obtained so far will be utilized in the future planning of human space exploration.

PMID:
26296204
PMCID:
PMC4546678
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0134736
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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