Earth Applications

Maintaining bone health during spaceflight is a major goal for researchers. The efforts of the Musculoskeletal Alterations Team will have benefits for people on Earth with bone disorders or are incompacitated due to injury or illness and for people participating in exercise and training programs. The benefits of the Teamís research for Earth are:
  • Practical countermeasures to lessen atrophy and weakness would benefit individuals immobilized by injury or surgery;
  • Methods to prevent and reduce bone loss can be used for treatment of osteoporosis and for other patients such as paraplegics, who experience increased bone loss;
  • Improved exercise techniques to maximize maintenance of bone mass for people suffering from bone disorders;
  • A countermeasure to inhibit fatigue would benefit a broad range of people whose work requires physical exertion ranging from military personnel to firefighters, police officers and construction workers;
  • Insight into practical ways to improve muscle mass and lean body mass in both young and old individuals, and application to sports training as a means to help aging individuals maintain strength in their limb muscles, thus reducing accidents and injury;
  • Novel therapies to prevent or treat the marked wasting of muscle seen in bed-ridden patients and ones with systemic disease (cardiac failure, cancer, sepsis, AIDS);
  • Development of a personal monitoring system could help individuals manage their bone health based on personal exercise goals and real-time feedback; and
  • Methods of improving the bone health of cancer patients undergoing radiation treatment.

NSBRI researchers are studying space radiation-induced bone loss and determining which treatments can be used to reduce that loss and lower the risk of fractures. In addition to protecting astronaut health, the project could also benefit cancer patients on Earth who receive radiotherapy, especially in the pelvic region.