Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Electrical Shocks May Keep Muscles Strong In Micro Gravity

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(Hat Tip: IsraGood, Image Credit: StimuHeal)

One of the major hurdles keeping humanity away from conquering the final frontier is gravity.

Without the constant pull from Earth (or another orbital body) our bones and muscles tend to deteriorate over time, which means that humanity will either have to construct large gravitational space stations (if in space), ingest special drugs (despite the side effects) or wear heavy gravity suits (if living on a less massive worlds like Callisto or Titan).

Now it looks like a much easier (and lighter) solution may be available as future colonists could simply wear a suit full of "electric shocks."

(Israel 21st Century) An Israeli company believes it has the ultimate solution to keep your muscles strong, even when you are immobilized, and your bones broken. The six-year-old company StimuHeal has invented an electrical stimulation device - the MyoSpare - that sits under your cast, stimulating your muscles to stay strong, even when your biggest workout is switching the channels on the remote control. [...]

Using existing equipment on the market, StimuHeal identified the technical and clinical limitations of activating the muscles underneath casts using Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES), a well-recognized tool in the American healthcare system.

If electrodes were to be inserted under the cast, the company recognized, prolonged sweating would be a problem. They also had to develop the perfect stimulation regime so the lactic acid and CO2 wouldn't build up in the muscles, causing pain and discomfort. StimuHeal solved this by developing a microprocessor that calculates a cycle for the muscles to rest.

If this technology could be perfected, then future colonists would be able to not only thrive upon smaller worlds (with weaker gravity), but also be able to survive long journeys aboard star ships without the need for orbital mechanics.

While a practical solution still needs to be developed for bones, its good to see a potential one exist for the many muscles that make up the human body.

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