Image: Studying astronauts' knees to rehabilitate bedridden, Earth-bound patients

Image: Studying astronauts' knees to rehabilitate bedridden, Earth-bound patients
Credit: ESA

This MRI scan shows a knee joint with cartilage covering the articulating joint surfaces to help the bones slide smoothly.

Cartilage responds slowly to changes in joint loading because it does not have any blood vessels, lymphatic system or nerves to feed and grow tissue, so nutrients are absorbed slowly.

Everyday loading of our skeleton is important to keep cartilage healthy because the motion and loading of the joint are needed to get nutrients into the cartilage, but little is known about cartilage in bedridden people on Earth.

To find out more, the Institute of Biomechanics and Orthopaedics of the German Sport University Cologne in Germany is studying astronauts.

As astronauts float in space for up to six months their legs are hardly used in weightlessness. The researchers are analysing biomarkers in up to 10 astronauts before and after flight to chart cartilage metabolism, thickness, volume and water content in .

This is the first time such a study is being done on healthy people. As cartilage responds so slowly, a similar study with healthy individuals on Earth would require that they do not move for many months, which is impossible.

The goal is to learn more about how the of the astronauts suffers from their trip into space. From here, researchers are hoping to understand the role of for health and the development of osteoarthritis.


Explore further

Graft properties affect knee ligament surgery outcome more than surgical technique

Citation: Image: Studying astronauts' knees to rehabilitate bedridden, Earth-bound patients (2015, October 21) retrieved 15 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-10-image-astronauts-knees-bedridden-earth-bound.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
35 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more