The Validity, Viability & Tolerability of a Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit (GLCS) during Ambulation & Resistance Exercise

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Abstract

Effective countermeasures against microgravity’s deleterious effects are vital for long-term space flight. Currently, the Russian “Pingvin” suit provides non-centrifugal Z-axis loading via upper-body and lower-body stages. While beneficial, it ineffectively loads the skeletal system, anecdotal reports also claim thermal and movement intolerance. Recently developed, the gravity loading countermeasure skin suit (GLCS) utilises a light bidirectional weave to create material strain (Gz) cumulatively through hundreds of stages, shoulders to feet, more accurately replicating Earth’s gravitational loading. This study sought to test the functional impact and tolerability of the GLCS during ambulation and selected ISS strength exercises. Eight participants (♂=5; 28.4±5.9yrs; 182.6±9.7cm; and 77.3±8.3kg) gave written informed consent to participate in the study that required individually tailored GLCS fabrication. Joint flexibility, functional movement and (upper and lower body) strength tests (12-rep max) were performed in the GLCS and gym attire (GYM). Performance of movement (total weight lifted), subjective (0-10; movement discomfort and body control) scales and core body temperature (CorTemp) were assessed.Significant (p<0.05) reduction in knee flexion (-13o), hip abduction (-12o), spinal extension (-13o) and shoulder flexion (-34o), were observed with GLCS wear. Significant GLCS-induced attenuation of spinal flexion (-28o) was associated (r=0.82;p=0.01) with impaired sit and reach ability (-12.8cm). Greater subjective movement restriction (6vs.3) and discomfort (7vs.3) were also reported. Strength exercise performance was not significantly impeded by the GLCS apart from shoulder press (15.7±4.1vs.18.4±3.4kg), where 3 individuals (n=3) could not complete their 12 rep max sets. Thermal comfort and core body temperature remained nominal. Despite some individual movement restriction, the GLCS is viable, both during movements associated with ambulation and strength exercise. Overall functionality appears greater than anecdotal reports on the “Pingvin” suit. As a microgravity countermeasure, the GLCS shows promise for daily activities and potentially augmenting strength training. Determination of GLCS effectiveness in ameliorating musculoskeletal degradation is warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-398
Number of pages1
JournalAviation Space and Environmental Medicine
Volume84
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013

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