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Project Title:  Quantitative CT and MRI-based Modeling Assessment of Dynamic Vertebral Strength and Injury Risk Following Long-Duration Spaceflight Reduce
Images: icon  Fiscal Year: FY 2022 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP HFBP:Human Factors & Behavioral Performance (IRP Rev H)
Start Date: 10/01/2016  
End Date: 08/31/2022  
Task Last Updated: 07/27/2021 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Weaver, Ashley  Ph.D. / Wake Forest University 
Address:  Biomedical Engineering/ Health Sciences 
575 N Patterson Ave. 
Winston-Salem , NC 27101-4101 
Email: asweaver@wakehealth.edu 
Phone: 336-716-0944  
Congressional District: 12 
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Wake Forest University 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Stitzel, Joel  Ph.D. Wake Forest University 
Tooze, Janet  Ph.D. Wake Forest University 
Key Personnel Changes / Previous PI: None
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX16AP89G 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Whitmire, Alexandra  
Center Contact:  
alexandra.m.whitmire@nasa.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2015-16 HERO NNJ15ZSA001N-Crew Health (FLAGSHIP, NSBRI, OMNIBUS). Appendix A-Crew Health, Appendix B-NSBRI, Appendix C-Omnibus 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX16AP89G 
Project Type: FLIGHT,GROUND 
Flight Program: ISS 
TechPort: No 
No. of Post Docs:
No. of PhD Candidates:
No. of Master's Candidates:
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:
No. of PhD Degrees:
No. of Master's Degrees:
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:
Human Research Program Elements: (1) HFBP:Human Factors & Behavioral Performance (IRP Rev H)
Human Research Program Risks: (1) Dynamic Loads:Risk of Injury from Dynamic Loads
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) DL-401:We do not know the extent to which multiple spaceflight hazards (e.g., spaceflight deconditioning, bone loss, radiation exposure, altered gravity) may interact to synergistically decrease injury tolerance for off-nominal dynamic landing loads, increasing risk to crew’s performance in mission-completing actions immediately after landing (IRP Rev M)
Flight Assignment/Project Notes: NOTE: End date changed to 8/31/2022 per L. Barnes-Moten/JSC (Ed., 8/2/21)

NOTE: End date changed to 8/31/2021 per NSSC information/S. Huppman/HRP (Ed., 2/25/2020)

NOTE: End date changed to 2/1/2020 per NSSC information (Ed., 7/8/19)

Task Description: Prolonged periods of near weightlessness can cause damage to astronauts’ musculoskeletal system. This damage can increase the risk of skeletal tissue failure (e.g., fractures, tears) when experiencing forceful, dynamic loads. Fractures of the spine during dynamic conditions such as launch or landing could cause a mission to fail. This study will measure this degradation of astronauts’ vertebrae and spinal muscles during missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS). We will then determine the extent of vertebral weakening of crewmembers during long-duration missions.

Changes in pre- and post-flight vertebral geometry, volume, cortex thickness, and bone mineral density will be measured from existing lumbar quantitative computed tomography (qCT) scans, as well as from planned qCT scans of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine from nine ISS crewmembers. Likewise, the pre- and post-flight spinal muscle volumes will be analyzed using both existing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and planned MRI scans from nine ISS crewmembers. The qCT and MRI scans will be analyzed to determine structural and material changes in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae and the spinal muscles that indicate damage which could weaken these tissues.

Our unique engineering approach will measure the loss of vertebral strength during spaceflight conditions and predict the risk of failure during traumatic, dynamic loading conditions such as launch or landing. Vertebral strength and risk for vertebral fracture and injury will be quantified in dynamic simulations using a full human body model that is constructed using structural and material data gathered from the pre- and post-flight medical images for each astronaut.

This study has significance in quantifying and addressing risks of long-duration spaceflight, including vertebral injury from dynamic loads, vertebral fracture, early onset vertebral osteoporosis due to spaceflight, and impaired performance due to reduced spinal muscle mass, strength, and endurance.

NASA Human Research Program (HRP) Student Augmentation Award (August 2021 report): For the Artemis missions to the lunar surface, NASA is planning for astronauts to employ a transfer vehicle to travel from the Gateway to low lunar orbit, a descent vehicle to land on the surface of the Moon, and an ascent vehicle to return to the Gateway. Since the Moon’s gravity is 6 times lower than Earth’s gravity, astronauts may pilot a lunar transfer vehicle in the standing posture similar to the Apollo missions, rather than a conventional seated posture. However, injury risks associated with different postures of astronauts under lunar spaceflight related dynamic loading conditions are not completely understood. There is a need to quantify and understand astronaut body kinematics and injury risks in the standing posture during vehicle launch, abort, and landing scenarios encountered on space missions.

This gap has been addressed under the current student award by carrying out computational assessment of different postures on astronaut response under lunar space-mission related dynamic loading conditions using full-body simulation with a finite element human body model. This study quantified injury risk associated with different postures for future lunar missions and will help in identifying critical regions for spacesuit and space-vehicle design to minimize astronaut injury risk for the future lunar missions.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: Microgravity induces similar spinal changes to those seen in the aging population and people with limited mobility. Demonstrating how the vertebral column changes in response to microgravity can aid in refining the diagnostic and treatment protocols of physicians on Earth. Additionally, assessing vertebral column strength using finite element modeling can provide future techniques for assessing the efficacy of osteoporosis treatments, which would particularly benefit older adults.

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2022 
Task Progress: The objectives of this project for the prior reporting year and the resulting progress on each objective is summarized below.

Objective 1. Publish retrospective analyses of the pre- and post-flight spinal muscle changes. Retrospective quantitative computed tomography (qCT) scans from 16 crewmembers were analyzed to characterize back muscle geometry, volume, and fat infiltration changes in crewmembers of long-duration spaceflight. Results of this study have been published in a paper titled “Trunk Skeletal Muscle Changes on CT with Long-Duration Spaceflight” in the Annals of Biomedical Engineering journal.

Retrospective magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the lower back of six crewmembers were used to analyze size and fat infiltration changes in the muscles that support the spine. Correlations between muscle change and onboard exercise were also analyzed. Results of this study have been submitted for publication.

Objective 2. Acquire, process, and begin analyzing the prospective pre- and post-flight data to quantify spinal muscle and bone changes. Prospective qCT and MRI data collection has been completed for all nine of the enrolled subjects. Bone and muscle morphology and quality measures are underway and will continue for all the subjects.

Objective 3. Develop methodology to develop astronaut-specific finite-element vertebrae models from prospective CT scan data and analyze changes in spinal injury risk from pre- to post-flight. Different morphing methodologies to develop subject-specific finite element vertebrae models from the prospective CT data have been compared and optimum morphing methods for all the vertebrae have been identified. Pre- and post-flight subject-specific finite element vertebrae models are being developed using these methods. Vertebral compression test simulations are being conducted to assess effects of space-induced changes on vertebral compression strength using these subject-specific vertebrae models.

Objective 4. Develop and validate a new modular deformable spine simplified finite-element human body model to study the effects of musculoskeletal changes on astronaut spinal injury risk. To study the effects of musculoskeletal changes on astronaut spinal injury risk, a modular deformable spine finite element human body model is being developed by incorporating a deformable spine in the existing simplified human body model. This newly developed model has been validated against PMHS (post mortem human surrogates) and volunteer test data from the literature to assess its biofidelity.

Objective 5. Assess effects of different postures on astronaut body kinematics and injury risk for future lunar missions. (HRP student augmentation award 2020). This year, the standing and seated postures of astronauts for future lunar missions have been simulated using full-body finite element human body models. From these simulations, kinematics and injury metrics for different body regions have been extracted and compared between the different postures and also against the injury assessment reference values from the literature.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 08/02/2022) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Lalwala M, Devane K, Gayzik FS, Weaver AA. "Finite Element Analysis of the Effects of Active Muscles on Head Injury Evaluation in Spaceflight Landings." Presented at the Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, Virtual, October 2020.

Abstracts. Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, Virtual, October 2020. , Oct-2020

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Lalwala M, Koya B, Gayzik FS, Weaver AA. "Integration and Validation of a Deformable Spine into a Simplified Human Body Model." Presented at the NHTSA International Workshop on Human Subjects for Biomechanical Research, Virtual, October 2020.

Proceedings of the Forty-Eighth NHTSA Workshop on Human Subjects for Biomechanical Research, October 2020. , Oct-2020

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Lalwala M, Koya B, Gayzik FS, Stitzel JD, Weaver AA. "Computational Assessment of Body Kinematics and Injury Risks for Astronauts in a Standing Posture during Lunar Launch/Landing." Presented at the 2021 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Virtual, February 1-4, 2021.

Abstracts. 2021 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Virtual, February 1-4, 2021. , Feb-2021

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Dash S, Greene KA, Tooze J, Weaver AA. "Changes In Lumbar And Thoracic Spine Muscles In Long Duration ISS Missions." Presented at the 2021 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Virtual, February 1-4, 2021.

Abstracts. 2021 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Virtual, February 1-4, 2021. , Feb-2021

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Greene KA, Withers SS, Lenchik L, Tooze JA, Weaver AA. "Abdominal Skeletal Muscle Changes in Long-Duration Space Crew." Presented at the 2021 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Virtual, February 1-4, 2021.

Abstracts. 2021 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Virtual, February 1-4, 2021. , Feb-2021

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Lalwala M, Koya B, Gayzik FS, Stitzel JD, Weaver AA. "Computational Assessment of a Standing versus a Seated Posture on Body Kinematics and Injury Risks for Astronauts during Lunar Launch and Landing." Presented at the Global Human Body Models Consortium (GHBMC) User’s Workshop, Virtual, April 2021.

Abstracts. Global Human Body Models Consortium (GHBMC) User’s Workshop, Virtual, April 2021. , Apr-2021

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Lalwala M, Koya B, Newby N, Somers J, Gayzik FS, Stitzel JD, Weaver AA. "Computational Modeling of Astronaut Kinematics and Injury Risks in a Standing Posture during Lunar Launch and Landing." Presented at the Ohio State University Injury Biomechanics Symposium, Virtual, May 2021.

Abstracts. Ohio State University Injury Biomechanics Symposium, Virtual, May 2021. , May-2021

Articles in Peer-reviewed Journals Greene KA, Withers SS, Lenchik L, Tooze JA, Weaver AA. "Trunk skeletal muscle changes on CT with long-duration spaceflight." Ann Biomed Eng. 2021 Apr;49(4):1257-66. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10439-021-02745-8 ; PMID: 33604800; PMCID: PMC8207531 , Apr-2021
Dissertations and Theses Dash S. "Quantifying the Musculoskeletal Changes due to Long-Duration Spaceflight using Medical Imaging." Master’s Thesis. Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, Winston-Salem, NC, May 2021. , May-2021
Project Title:  Quantitative CT and MRI-based Modeling Assessment of Dynamic Vertebral Strength and Injury Risk Following Long-Duration Spaceflight Reduce
Images: icon  Fiscal Year: FY 2021 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP HFBP:Human Factors & Behavioral Performance (IRP Rev H)
Start Date: 10/01/2016  
End Date: 08/31/2021  
Task Last Updated: 07/29/2020 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Weaver, Ashley  Ph.D. / Wake Forest University 
Address:  Biomedical Engineering/ Health Sciences 
575 N Patterson Ave. 
Winston-Salem , NC 27101-4101 
Email: asweaver@wakehealth.edu 
Phone: 336-716-0944  
Congressional District: 12 
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Wake Forest University 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Stitzel, Joel  Ph.D. Wake Forest University 
Tooze, Janet  Ph.D. Wake Forest University 
Key Personnel Changes / Previous PI: None
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX16AP89G 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Whitmire, Alexandra  
Center Contact:  
alexandra.m.whitmire@nasa.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2015-16 HERO NNJ15ZSA001N-Crew Health (FLAGSHIP, NSBRI, OMNIBUS). Appendix A-Crew Health, Appendix B-NSBRI, Appendix C-Omnibus 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX16AP89G 
Project Type: FLIGHT,GROUND 
Flight Program: ISS 
TechPort: No 
No. of Post Docs:  
No. of PhD Candidates:
No. of Master's Candidates:
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:
No. of PhD Degrees:
No. of Master's Degrees:
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:
Human Research Program Elements: (1) HFBP:Human Factors & Behavioral Performance (IRP Rev H)
Human Research Program Risks: (1) Dynamic Loads:Risk of Injury from Dynamic Loads
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) DL-401:We do not know the extent to which multiple spaceflight hazards (e.g., spaceflight deconditioning, bone loss, radiation exposure, altered gravity) may interact to synergistically decrease injury tolerance for off-nominal dynamic landing loads, increasing risk to crew’s performance in mission-completing actions immediately after landing (IRP Rev M)
Flight Assignment/Project Notes: NOTE: End date changed to 8/31/2021 per NSSC information/S. Huppman/HRP (Ed., 2/25/2020)

NOTE: End date changed to 2/1/2020 per NSSC information (Ed., 7/8/19)

Task Description: Prolonged periods of near weightlessness can cause damage to astronauts’ musculoskeletal system. This damage can increase the risk of skeletal tissue failure (e.g., fractures, tears) when experiencing forceful, dynamic loads. Fractures of the spine during dynamic conditions such as launch or landing could cause a mission to fail. This study will measure this degradation of astronauts’ vertebrae and spinal muscles during missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS). We will then determine the extent of vertebral weakening of crewmembers during long-duration missions.

Changes in pre- and post-flight vertebral geometry, volume, cortex thickness, and bone mineral density will be measured from existing lumbar quantitative computed tomography (qCT) scans, as well as from planned qCT scans of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine from nine ISS crewmembers. Likewise, the pre- and post-flight spinal muscle volumes will be analyzed using both existing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and planned MRI scans from nine ISS crewmembers. The qCT and MRI scans will be analyzed to determine structural and material changes in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae and the spinal muscles that indicate damage which could weaken these tissues.

Our unique engineering approach will measure the loss of vertebral strength during spaceflight conditions and predict the risk of failure during traumatic, dynamic loading conditions such as launch or landing. Vertebral strength and risk for vertebral fracture and injury will be quantified in dynamic simulations using a full human body model that is constructed using structural and material data gathered from the pre- and post-flight medical images for each astronaut.

This study has significance in quantifying and addressing risks of long-duration spaceflight, including vertebral injury from dynamic loads, vertebral fracture, early onset vertebral osteoporosis due to spaceflight, and impaired performance due to reduced spinal muscle mass, strength, and endurance.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: Microgravity induces similar spinal changes to those seen in the aging population and people with limited mobility. Demonstrating how the vertebral column changes in response to microgravity can aid in refining the diagnostic and treatment protocols of physicians on Earth. Additionally, assessing vertebral column strength using finite element modeling can provide future techniques for assessing the efficacy of osteoporosis treatments, which would particularly benefit older adults.

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2021 
Task Progress: The objectives of this project for the prior reporting year and the resulting progress on each objective is summarized below.

Objective 1. Analyze retrospective pre- and post-flight medical images to quantify spinal muscle changes. Retrospective quantitative computed tomography (qCT) scans from 16 crewmembers were analyzed to characterize back muscle geometry, volume, and fat infiltration changes in crewmembers of long-duration spaceflight. This year, an additional analysis was added to examine abdominal muscle changes. Crewmember dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) reports were also obtained from Lifetime Surveillance of Astronaut Health (LSAH) and used to compare skeletal muscle indexes between CT and DXA modalities.

Retrospective magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the neck and lower back of six crewmembers were used to analyze size and fat infiltration changes in the muscles that support the spine. Correlations between muscle change and onboard exercise were also analyzed.

Objective 2. Continue consenting crewmembers for the prospective arm of the study. Additional crewmember briefings took place this year and a total of nine crewmembers are currently enrolled to participate in the prospective portion of the study.

Objective 3. Acquire, process, and begin analyzing prospective pre- and post-flight medical images. Prospective qCT and MRI data collection has continued for all nine of the enrolled subjects. Bone and muscle morphology and quality measures are underway and will continue as additional data become available.

Objective 4. Prepare the prospective data for integration into human body finite element models. This year, a sensitivity analysis was conducted with the study’s finite element human body model to investigate the effects of muscle activation on astronauts’ kinematic and injury response under complex multi-directional loading conditions associated with spaceflight launch and landing. Considering the results of this sub-study, the available prospective qCT and MRI images are being used to create 3D computational models of the spine representative of each subject. With the help of computational algorithms, these subject-specific models are being used to customize existing finite element models of the spine to represent each crewmember.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 08/02/2022) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Bonini MF, Greene KA, Lenchik L, Weaver AA. "DIXON Sequence MRI Pipeline for Measuring Prospective Changes in Spinal Muscle Size and Quality with Long-Duration Spaceflight." BMES 2019. 2019 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, October 16-19, 2019.

BMES 2019. 2019 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, October 16-19, 2019. , Oct-2019

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Greene KA, McNamara KP, Lenchik L, Weaver AA. "Quantifying Retrospective Lumbar Musculature Changes with Long-Duration Spaceflight using MRI." BMES 2019. 2019 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, October 16-19, 2019.

BMES 2019. 2019 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, October 16-19, 2019. , Oct-2019

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Greene KA, McNamara KP, Weaver AA. "Computationally Assessing Crewmember Musculoskeletal Health with Long-Duration Spaceflight." Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop, Wichita, KS, November 2019.

Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop, Wichita, KS, November 2019. , Nov-2019

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Greene KA, Weaver AA, Bonini MF, Lenchik L. "Measuring Cervical Muscle Size and Quality with Long-Duration Spaceflight." 2020 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Galveston, TX, January 27-30, 2020.

Abstracts. 2020 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Galveston, TX, January 27-30, 2020. , Jan-2020

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Greene KA, Weaver AA, Bonini MF, Lenchik L. "Quantifying Lower Back Muscle Changes with Long-Duration Spaceflight using Biomedical Imaging." Society of Women Engineers WE Local, Raleigh, NC, February 21-22, 2020.

Abstracts. Society of Women Engineers WE Local, Raleigh, NC, February 21-222, 2020. , Feb-2020

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Lalwala M, Devane K, Johnson DR, Weaver AA. "Computational Assessment of the Effects of Muscle Activation on Body Kinematics and Injury Risks Associated with Spaceflight Loading Conditions." Ohio State University Injury Biomechanics Symposium, Columbus, OH, May 2020.

Ohio State University Injury Biomechanics Symposium, Columbus, OH, May 2020. [Accepted; event cancelled due to COVID-19] , May-2020

Articles in Peer-reviewed Journals McNamara KP, Greene KA, Tooze JA, Dang J, Khattab K, Lenchik L, Weaver AA. "Neck muscle changes following long-duration spaceflight." Front Physiol. 2019 Sep 13;10:1115. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2019.01115 ; PMID: 31572205; PMCID: PMC6753191 , Sep-2019
Dissertations and Theses Greene KA. "Image-Based Analysis Reveals Detrimental Effects of Long-Duration Spaceflight on Trunk Muscles." Master’s Thesis, Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, July 2020. , Jul-2020
Project Title:  Quantitative CT and MRI-based Modeling Assessment of Dynamic Vertebral Strength and Injury Risk Following Long-Duration Spaceflight Reduce
Images: icon  Fiscal Year: FY 2020 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP HFBP:Human Factors & Behavioral Performance (IRP Rev H)
Start Date: 10/01/2016  
End Date: 08/31/2021  
Task Last Updated: 07/31/2019 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Weaver, Ashley  Ph.D. / Wake Forest University 
Address:  Biomedical Engineering/ Health Sciences 
575 N Patterson Ave. 
Winston-Salem , NC 27101-4101 
Email: asweaver@wakehealth.edu 
Phone: 336-716-0944  
Congressional District: 12 
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Wake Forest University 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Stitzel, Joel  Ph.D. Wake Forest University 
Tooze, Janet  Ph.D. Wake Forest University 
Key Personnel Changes / Previous PI: None
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX16AP89G 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Williams, Thomas  
Center Contact: 281-483-8773 
thomas.j.will1@nasa.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2015-16 HERO NNJ15ZSA001N-Crew Health (FLAGSHIP, NSBRI, OMNIBUS). Appendix A-Crew Health, Appendix B-NSBRI, Appendix C-Omnibus 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX16AP89G 
Project Type: FLIGHT,GROUND 
Flight Program: ISS 
TechPort: No 
No. of Post Docs:  
No. of PhD Candidates:
No. of Master's Candidates:  
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:
No. of PhD Degrees:
No. of Master's Degrees:  
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:
Human Research Program Elements: (1) HFBP:Human Factors & Behavioral Performance (IRP Rev H)
Human Research Program Risks: (1) Dynamic Loads:Risk of Injury from Dynamic Loads
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) DL-401:We do not know the extent to which multiple spaceflight hazards (e.g., spaceflight deconditioning, bone loss, radiation exposure, altered gravity) may interact to synergistically decrease injury tolerance for off-nominal dynamic landing loads, increasing risk to crew’s performance in mission-completing actions immediately after landing (IRP Rev M)
Flight Assignment/Project Notes: NOTE: End date changed to 8/31/2021 per NSSC information/S. Huppman/HRP (Ed., 2/25/2020)

NOTE: End date changed to 2/1/2020 per NSSC information (Ed., 7/8/19)

Task Description: Prolonged periods of near weightlessness can cause damage to astronauts’ musculoskeletal system. This damage can increase the risk of skeletal tissue failure (e.g., fractures, tears) when experiencing forceful, dynamic loads. Fractures of the spine during dynamic conditions such as launch or landing could cause a mission to fail. This study will measure this degradation of astronauts’ vertebrae and spinal muscles during missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS). We will then determine the extent of vertebral weakening of crewmembers during long-duration missions.

Changes in pre- and post-flight vertebral geometry, volume, cortex thickness, and bone mineral density will be measured from existing lumbar quantitative computed tomography (qCT) scans, as well as from planned qCT scans of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine from nine ISS crewmembers. Likewise, the pre- and post-flight spinal muscle volumes will be analyzed using both existing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and planned MRI scans from nine ISS crewmembers. The qCT and MRI scans will be analyzed to determine structural and material changes in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae and the spinal muscles that indicate damage which could weaken these tissues.

Our unique engineering approach will measure the loss of vertebral strength during spaceflight conditions and predict the risk of failure during traumatic, dynamic loading conditions such as launch or landing. Vertebral strength and risk for vertebral fracture and injury will be quantified in 900 dynamic simulations using a full human body model that is constructed using structural and material data gathered from the pre- and post-flight medical images for each astronaut.

This study has significance in quantifying and addressing risks of long-duration spaceflight, including vertebral injury from dynamic loads, vertebral fracture, early onset vertebral osteoporosis due to spaceflight, and impaired performance due to reduced spinal muscle mass, strength, and endurance.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: Microgravity induces similar spinal changes to those seen in the aging population and people with limited mobility. Demonstrating how the vertebral column changes in response to microgravity can aid in refining the diagnostic and treatment protocols of physicians on Earth. Additionally, assessing vertebral column strength using finite element modeling can provide future techniques for assessing the efficacy of osteoporosis treatments, which would particularly benefit the elderly.

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2020 
Task Progress: The objectives of this project for the prior reporting year and the resulting progress on each objective are summarized below.

Objective 1. Analyze retrospective pre- and post-flight medical images to quantify spinal muscle changes.

These retrospective analyses were continued from the previous year and completed. Retrospective quantitative computed tomography (qCT) scans from 16 crewmembers were received in March and July 2017. Pre-flight and post-flight qCT scans were used to characterize back muscle geometry, volume, and fat infiltration changes in crewmembers of long-duration spaceflight. Retrospective magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the neck and lower back of six crewmembers were received in June 2017. Pre-flight and a post-flight scans were used to analyze size and fat infiltration changes in the muscles that support the spine.

Objective 2. Continue consenting crewmembers for the prospective arm of the study.

Eleven crewmember briefings took place this year and a total of seven crewmembers have consented to participate in the prospective portion of the study.

Objective 3. Acquire, process, and begin analyzing prospective pre- and post-flight medical images.

Prospective qCT and MRI data collection has begun for five of the enrolled subjects. Preliminary measures of muscle size and fat infiltration are underway and will continue as additional data becomes available.

Objective 4. Prepare the prospective data for integration into human body finite element models.

The available prospective qCT images are being used to create 3D computational models of the C3, T3, and L1 bones in the spine representative of each subject. With the help of computational algorithms, these subject-specific models of the bones are being used to customize existing finite element models of the spine to better represent each crewmember.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 08/02/2022) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Greene KA, McNamara K, Moore A, Subramanian N, Maez L, Weaver AA. "Quantifying Lumbar Musculature and Adipose Tissue Changes with Spaceflight using qCT Analysis." BMES 2018. 2018 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, October 17-20, 2018.

BMES 2018. 2018 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, October 17-20, 2018. , Oct-2018

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Khattab K, McNamara K, Greene KA, Lenchik L, Weaver AA. "Neck Injury Risk During Landing for Astronauts with Spaceflight Induced Changes in Muscle Size." BMES 2018. 2018 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, October 17-20, 2018.

BMES 2018. 2018 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, October 17-20, 2018. , Oct-2018

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings McNamara K, Greene KA, Weaver AA. "Quantifying the Effects of aRED on Astronaut Lumbar Musculature Following Long-Duration Spaceflight." BMES 2018. 2018 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, October 17-20, 2018.

BMES 2018. 2018 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA, October 17-20, 2018. , Oct-2018

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Greene KA, McNamara KP, Moore AM, Dang J, Khattab K, Lenchik L, Weaver AA. "Quantifying Lumbar and Cervical Musculature Changes with Long-Duration Spaceflight Using MRI." 2019 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Galveston, TX, January 22-25, 2019.

2019 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Galveston, TX, January 22-25, 2019. , Jan-2019

Articles in Peer-reviewed Journals McNamara KP, Greene KA, Moore AM, Lenchik L, Weaver AA. "Lumbopelvic muscle changes following long-duration spaceflight." Front Physiol. 2019 May 21;10:627. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2019.00627 ; PubMed PMID: 31164840; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6536568 , May-2019
Dissertations and Theses McNamara KP. "Spinal Muscle Changes and Occupant Injury Risk Prediction in Spaceflight." Doctoral Dissertation, Virginia Tech – Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, Winston-Salem, NC, May 2019. , May-2019
Project Title:  Quantitative CT and MRI-based Modeling Assessment of Dynamic Vertebral Strength and Injury Risk Following Long-Duration Spaceflight Reduce
Images: icon  Fiscal Year: FY 2019 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP HFBP:Human Factors & Behavioral Performance (IRP Rev H)
Start Date: 10/01/2016  
End Date: 02/01/2020  
Task Last Updated: 07/28/2018 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Weaver, Ashley  Ph.D. / Wake Forest University 
Address:  Biomedical Engineering/ Health Sciences 
575 N Patterson Ave. 
Winston-Salem , NC 27101-4101 
Email: asweaver@wakehealth.edu 
Phone: 336-716-0944  
Congressional District: 12 
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Wake Forest University 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Stitzel, Joel  Ph.D. Wake Forest University 
Tooze, Janet  Ph.D. Wake Forest University 
Key Personnel Changes / Previous PI: None
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX16AP89G 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Williams, Thomas  
Center Contact: 281-483-8773 
thomas.j.will1@nasa.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2015-16 HERO NNJ15ZSA001N-Crew Health (FLAGSHIP, NSBRI, OMNIBUS). Appendix A-Crew Health, Appendix B-NSBRI, Appendix C-Omnibus 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX16AP89G 
Project Type: FLIGHT,GROUND 
Flight Program: ISS 
TechPort: No 
No. of Post Docs:  
No. of PhD Candidates:
No. of Master's Candidates:  
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:
No. of PhD Degrees:  
No. of Master's Degrees:  
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:
Human Research Program Elements: (1) HFBP:Human Factors & Behavioral Performance (IRP Rev H)
Human Research Program Risks: (1) Dynamic Loads:Risk of Injury from Dynamic Loads
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) DL-401:We do not know the extent to which multiple spaceflight hazards (e.g., spaceflight deconditioning, bone loss, radiation exposure, altered gravity) may interact to synergistically decrease injury tolerance for off-nominal dynamic landing loads, increasing risk to crew’s performance in mission-completing actions immediately after landing (IRP Rev M)
Flight Assignment/Project Notes: NOTE: End date changed to 2/1/2020 per NSSC information (Ed., 7/8/19)

Task Description: Prolonged periods of near weightlessness can cause damage to astronauts’ musculoskeletal system. This damage can increase the risk of skeletal tissue failure (e.g., fractures, tears) when experiencing forceful, dynamic loads. Fractures of the spine during dynamic conditions such as launch or landing could cause a mission to fail. This study will measure this degradation of astronauts’ vertebrae and spinal muscles during missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS). We will then determine the extent of vertebral weakening of crewmembers during long-duration missions.

Changes in pre- and post-flight vertebral geometry, volume, cortex thickness, and bone mineral density will be measured from existing lumbar quantitative computed tomography (qCT) scans, as well as from planned qCT scans of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine from nine ISS crewmembers. Likewise, the pre- and post-flight spinal muscle volumes will be analyzed using both existing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and planned MRI scans from nine ISS crewmembers. The qCT and MRI scans will be analyzed to determine structural and material changes in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae and the spinal muscles that indicate damage which could weaken these tissues.

Our unique engineering approach will measure the loss of vertebral strength during spaceflight conditions and predict the risk of failure during traumatic, dynamic loading conditions such as launch or landing. Vertebral strength and risk for vertebral fracture and injury will be quantified in 900 dynamic simulations using a full human body model that is constructed using structural and material data gathered from the pre- and post-flight medical images for each astronaut.

This study has significance in quantifying and addressing risks of long-duration spaceflight, including vertebral injury from dynamic loads, vertebral fracture, early onset vertebral osteoporosis due to spaceflight, and impaired performance due to reduced spinal muscle mass, strength, and endurance.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: Microgravity induces similar spinal changes to those seen in the aging population and people with limited mobility. Demonstrating how the vertebral column changes in response to microgravity can aid in refining the diagnostic and treatment protocols of physicians on Earth. Additionally, assessing vertebral column strength using finite element modeling can provide future techniques for assessing the efficacy of osteoporosis treatments, which would particularly benefit the elderly.

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2019 
Task Progress: The objectives of this project for the second year and the resulting progress on each objective are summarized below.

Objective 1. Acquire and analyze retrospective pre- and post-flight medical images to quantify spinal muscle changes.

Retrospective quantitative computed tomography (qCT) scans from 16 crewmembers were received from the LSDA (Life Sciences Data Archive)/LSAH (LSAH (Lifetime Surveillance of Astronaut Health) in March and July 2017. Pre-flight and post-flight qCT scans were available for 16 subjects, and the psoas, paraspinal, and quadratus lumborum muscle groups were segmented and analyzed from the retrospective qCT scans to characterize muscle geometry, volume, and fat infiltration changes in crewmembers of long-duration spaceflight.

Retrospective magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the cervical spine and lumbar spine of 6 crewmembers were received from the LSDA/LSAH in June 2017. All crewmembers underwent both a pre-flight and a post-flight scan. The psoas, paraspinal, and quadratus lumborum muscle groups were segmented to characterize full-length volume changes in these lumbar muscles. Select cervical muscles were measured at pre-determined axial slices in order to characterize changes in the cross-sectional areas of the cervical muscles.

Objective 2. Modify a finite element human body model to mimic the musculoskeletal changes seen in imaging.

Using the outputs from the MRI scans, a finite element model has been modified to better represent the back and neck musculature of crewmembers both before and after spaceflight. A total of 10 models have been generated to date (pre- and post-models for 5 crewmembers).

Objective 3. Create an injury risk prediction post-processor for the spine.

Cross sections were implemented in the finite element models along all cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae. This allowed us to extract information on stresses, strains, axial forces, and bending moments experienced at each vertebra to calculate injury risk.

Objective 4. Begin running simulations of landing conditions.

A total of six 10G deceleration simulations were created by varying loading direction. Each astronaut model was subjected to this test matrix creating a total of 60 launched simulations. Of these 60 simulations, the clear majority have completed without errors.

Objective 5. Continue consenting crewmembers for the prospective arm of the study.

Ten crewmember briefings have taken place this year and four crewmembers have consented to participate in prospective portion of the study. Additional consent briefings are tentatively planned for the Fall of 2018.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 08/02/2022) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Subramanian N, McNamara K, Weaver AA. "Cortical Thinning in Lumbar Vertebrae of Astronauts on Long-Duration Spaceflight Missions." Abstract for poster presentation at the 2017 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, Phoenix, AZ, October 11-14, 2017.

2017 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, Phoenix, AZ, October 11-14, 2017. , Oct-2017

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Weaver AA, McNamara KP, Greene KA, Subramanian N. "Spaceflight-Induced Changes in the Lumbar Vertebrae and Musculature." Presented at the 2018 NASA Human Research Program Investigators' Workshop, Galveston, TX, January 22-25, 2018.

018 NASA Human Research Program Investigators' Workshop, Galveston, TX, January 22-25, 2018. http://cdn-uploads.preciscentral.com/Download/Submissions/EBF7B8346D4DF9FA/1589CA10BEF9AAAF.pdf ; accessed 7/30/2018. , Jan-2018

Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings McNamara KP, Greene KA, Weaver AA. "THUMS Modeling to Assess Dynamic Vertebral Strength Changes Pre- vs Post-Spaceflight on Long-Duration ISS Missions." Presented at the 2018 THUMS (Total Human Model for Safety) USA Users’ Meeting, Dearborn, MI, June 13, 2018.

2018 THUMS (Total Human Model for Safety) USA Users’ Meeting, Dearborn, MI, June 13, 2018. https://cae.jsol.co.jp/en/event/usersevent/2018/thums/ ; accessed 7/30/2018. , Jun-2018

Project Title:  Quantitative CT and MRI-based Modeling Assessment of Dynamic Vertebral Strength and Injury Risk Following Long-Duration Spaceflight Reduce
Images: icon  Fiscal Year: FY 2018 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP HFBP:Human Factors & Behavioral Performance (IRP Rev H)
Start Date: 10/01/2016  
End Date: 09/30/2019  
Task Last Updated: 08/02/2017 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Weaver, Ashley  Ph.D. / Wake Forest University 
Address:  Biomedical Engineering/ Health Sciences 
575 N Patterson Ave. 
Winston-Salem , NC 27101-4101 
Email: asweaver@wakehealth.edu 
Phone: 336-716-0944  
Congressional District: 12 
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Wake Forest University 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Stitzel, Joel  Ph.D. Wake Forest University 
Tooze, Janet  Ph.D. Wake Forest University 
Key Personnel Changes / Previous PI: None
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX16AP89G 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Williams, Thomas  
Center Contact: 281-483-8773 
thomas.j.will1@nasa.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2015-16 HERO NNJ15ZSA001N-Crew Health (FLAGSHIP, NSBRI, OMNIBUS). Appendix A-Crew Health, Appendix B-NSBRI, Appendix C-Omnibus 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX16AP89G 
Project Type: FLIGHT,GROUND 
Flight Program: ISS 
TechPort: No 
No. of Post Docs:  
No. of PhD Candidates:
No. of Master's Candidates:  
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:
No. of PhD Degrees:  
No. of Master's Degrees:  
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:  
Human Research Program Elements: (1) HFBP:Human Factors & Behavioral Performance (IRP Rev H)
Human Research Program Risks: (1) Dynamic Loads:Risk of Injury from Dynamic Loads
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) DL-401:We do not know the extent to which multiple spaceflight hazards (e.g., spaceflight deconditioning, bone loss, radiation exposure, altered gravity) may interact to synergistically decrease injury tolerance for off-nominal dynamic landing loads, increasing risk to crew’s performance in mission-completing actions immediately after landing (IRP Rev M)
Task Description: Prolonged periods of near weightlessness can cause damage to astronauts’ musculoskeletal system. This damage can increase the risk of skeletal tissue failure (e.g., fractures, tears) when experiencing forceful, dynamic loads. Fractures of the spine during dynamic conditions such as launch or landing could cause a mission to fail. This study will measure this degradation of astronauts’ vertebrae and spinal muscles during missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS). We will then determine the extent of vertebral weakening of crewmembers during long-duration missions.

Changes in pre- and post-flight vertebral geometry, volume, cortex thickness, and bone mineral density will be measured from existing lumbar quantitative computed tomography (qCT) scans, as well as from planned qCT scans of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine from nine ISS crewmembers. Likewise, the pre- and post-flight spinal muscle volumes will be analyzed using both existing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and planned MRI scans from nine ISS crewmembers. The qCT and MRI scans will be analyzed to determine structural and material changes in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae and the spinal muscles that indicate damage which could weaken these tissues.

Our unique engineering approach will measure the loss of vertebral strength during spaceflight conditions and predict the risk of failure during traumatic, dynamic loading conditions such as launch or landing. Vertebral strength and risk for vertebral fracture and injury will be quantified in 900 dynamic simulations using a full human body model that is constructed using structural and material data gathered from the pre- and post-flight medical images for each astronaut.

This study has significance in quantifying and addressing risks of long-duration spaceflight, including vertebral injury from dynamic loads, vertebral fracture, early onset vertebral osteoporosis due to spaceflight, and impaired performance due to reduced spinal muscle mass, strength, and endurance.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits: Microgravity induces similar spinal changes to those seen in the aging population and people with limited mobility. Demonstrating how the vertebral column changes in response to microgravity can aid in refining the diagnostic and treatment protocols of physicians on Earth. Additionally, assessing vertebral column strength using finite element modeling can provide future techniques for assessing the efficacy of osteoporosis treatments, which would particularly benefit the elderly.

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2018 
Task Progress: The objectives of this project for the first year and the resulting progress on each objective is summarized below.

Objective 1. Obtain study approvals for the retrospective and prospective arms of the study.

Approvals for the retrospective and prospective arms of the study were obtained this year, including LSAH (Lifetime Surveillance of Astronaut Health), IRB (Institutional Review Board), and Flight Investigation approvals.

Objective 2. Acquire and analyze retrospective pre- and post-flight medical images to quantify vertebral and spinal muscle changes.

Retrospective quantitative computed tomography (qCT) scans from 16 crewmembers were received from the LSDA (Life Sciences Data Archive)/LSAH in March and July 2017. Pre-flight and post-flight qCT scans were available for 16 subjects, with follow-up qCT scans at 1, 2, 3, and 4 years for select subjects. The 16 pre-flight,16 post-flight, and 27 annual follow-up qCT scans of L1 and L2 vertebrae were segmented using a semi-automated process to create 3D models of the vertebrae. Each qCT scan was processed with an algorithm to quantify the cortical thickness of the L1 and L2 vertebrae, mapping these thicknesses onto the 3D vertebral surface models. Analysis of the cortical thickness data is ongoing.

The psoas, paraspinal, and quadratus lumborum muscle groups are in the process of being segmented and analyzed from the retrospective qCT scans to characterize muscle geometry, volume, and fat infiltration changes in crewmembers of long-duration spaceflight. Segmentation of the psoas, paraspinal, and quadratus lumborum muscles, including fat infiltration, has been completed for 16 of the 59 qCT scans. Analysis of muscle geometry, volume, and fat infiltration changes for pre-flight, post-flight, and follow up scans is in progress.

Retrospective magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the cervical spine and lumbar spine of 6 crewmembers were received from the LSDA/LSAH in June 2017. All crewmembers underwent both a pre-flight and a post-flight scan. Analysis of these scans to quantify spinal muscle changes from pre- to post-flight is in progress.

Objective 3. Prepare the medical image protocols and procedures for the prospective arm of the study.

A parametric experiment with a cadaver was conducted to vary qCT scan parameters and examine the resulting image quality and radiation dosage. The objective was to determine a set of scanning parameters that produced adequate image quality to measure bone outcomes, while reducing the radiation exposure to the research participant. The cadaver underwent 14 qCT scans of the C1-L5 region and the following scan parameters were varied: tube voltage, tube current, and pitch. Volumetric bone mineral density measures from each of these scans were compared to a qCT scan acquired with standard parameters that are used clinically to assess accuracy. Using this data, we have finalized a qCT protocol to scan the C3, T3, and L1 vertebrae that produces accurate volumetric bone mineral density measurements with minimal radiation exposure (<1 mSv).

The MRI scan protocol was also finalized for the prospective arm of the study. T1 and T2 weighted MRI scans of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine regions will be acquired to capture the spinal musculature surrounding the vertebral column.

Objective 4. Begin consenting crewmembers for the prospective arm of the study.

Consent briefings for potential crewmembers for the prospective arm of the study began in July 2017 and we are actively enrolling participants. To date, four consent briefings have been held or are scheduled.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 08/02/2022) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
Abstracts for Journals and Proceedings Weaver AA, Stitzel JD. "Imaging and Modeling Techniques for Assessing Dynamic Vertebral Strength and Injury Risk in Long-Duration Spaceflight." Presented at the 2017 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Galveston, TX, January 23-26, 2017.

2017 NASA Human Research Program Investigators’ Workshop, Galveston, TX, January 23-26, 2017. https://cdn-uploads.preciscentral.com/Download/Submissions/27489229B00B92F1/AE28B4179F03E533.pdf , Jan-2017

Project Title:  Quantitative CT and MRI-based Modeling Assessment of Dynamic Vertebral Strength and Injury Risk Following Long-Duration Spaceflight Reduce
Images: icon  Fiscal Year: FY 2017 
Division: Human Research 
Research Discipline/Element:
HRP HFBP:Human Factors & Behavioral Performance (IRP Rev H)
Start Date: 10/01/2016  
End Date: 09/30/2019  
Task Last Updated: 12/14/2016 
Download report in PDF pdf
Principal Investigator/Affiliation:   Weaver, Ashley  Ph.D. / Wake Forest University 
Address:  Biomedical Engineering/ Health Sciences 
575 N Patterson Ave. 
Winston-Salem , NC 27101-4101 
Email: asweaver@wakehealth.edu 
Phone: 336-716-0944  
Congressional District: 12 
Web:  
Organization Type: UNIVERSITY 
Organization Name: Wake Forest University 
Joint Agency:  
Comments:  
Co-Investigator(s)
Affiliation: 
Stitzel, Joel  Ph.D. Wake Forest University 
Tooze, Janet  Ph.D. Wake Forest University 
Project Information: Grant/Contract No. NNX16AP89G 
Responsible Center: NASA JSC 
Grant Monitor: Williams, Thomas  
Center Contact: 281-483-8773 
thomas.j.will1@nasa.gov 
Solicitation / Funding Source: 2015-16 HERO NNJ15ZSA001N-Crew Health (FLAGSHIP, NSBRI, OMNIBUS). Appendix A-Crew Health, Appendix B-NSBRI, Appendix C-Omnibus 
Grant/Contract No.: NNX16AP89G 
Project Type: FLIGHT,GROUND 
Flight Program: ISS 
TechPort: No 
No. of Post Docs:  
No. of PhD Candidates:  
No. of Master's Candidates:  
No. of Bachelor's Candidates:  
No. of PhD Degrees:  
No. of Master's Degrees:  
No. of Bachelor's Degrees:  
Human Research Program Elements: (1) HFBP:Human Factors & Behavioral Performance (IRP Rev H)
Human Research Program Risks: (1) Dynamic Loads:Risk of Injury from Dynamic Loads
Human Research Program Gaps: (1) DL-401:We do not know the extent to which multiple spaceflight hazards (e.g., spaceflight deconditioning, bone loss, radiation exposure, altered gravity) may interact to synergistically decrease injury tolerance for off-nominal dynamic landing loads, increasing risk to crew’s performance in mission-completing actions immediately after landing (IRP Rev M)
Task Description: Prolonged periods of near weightlessness can cause damage to astronauts’ musculoskeletal system. This damage can increase the risk of skeletal tissue failure (e.g., fractures, tears) when experiencing forceful, dynamic loads. Fractures of the spine during dynamic conditions such as launch or landing could cause a mission to fail. This study will measure this degradation of astronauts’ vertebrae and spinal muscles during missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS). We will then determine the extent of vertebral weakening of crewmembers during long-duration missions.

Changes in pre- and post-flight vertebral geometry, volume, cortex thickness, and bone mineral density will be measured from existing lumbar quantitative computed tomography (qCT) scans, as well as from planned qCT scans of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine from six ISS crewmembers. Likewise, the pre- and post-flight spinal muscle volumes will be analyzed using both existing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and planned MRI scans from six ISS crewmembers. The qCT and MRI scans will be analyzed to determine structural and material changes in the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar vertebrae and the spinal muscles that indicate damage which could weaken these tissues.

Our unique engineering approach will measure the loss of vertebral strength during spaceflight conditions and predict the risk of failure during traumatic, dynamic loading conditions such as launch or landing. Vertebral strength and risk for vertebral fracture and injury will be quantified in 900 dynamic simulations using a full human body model that is constructed using structural and material data gathered from the pre- and post-flight medical images for each astronaut.

This study has significance in quantifying and addressing risks of long-duration spaceflight, including vertebral injury from dynamic loads, vertebral fracture, early onset vertebral osteoporosis due to spaceflight, and impaired performance due to reduced spinal muscle mass, strength, and endurance.

Research Impact/Earth Benefits:

Task Progress & Bibliography Information FY2017 
Task Progress: New project for FY2017.

Bibliography Type: Description: (Last Updated: 08/02/2022) 

Show Cumulative Bibliography Listing
 
 None in FY 2017