Members of Expedition 9 crew aboard the ISS completed the study as part of the Advanced Diagnostic Ultrasound in Microgravity (ADUM) experiment.
"It is with great pleasure that we offer to the journal Radiology the first paper ever submitted from the ISS," said the study's lead author, ISS Science Officer E. Michael Fincke, M.S.
The ADUM experiment is being conducted to determine the accuracy of ultrasound in novel clinical conditions, to assess feasibility of ultrasound for monitoring in-flight musculoskeletal changes in crewmembers and to determine optimal training methods, including the use of remote guidance. While some aspects of the experiment are unique to space flight, Fincke believes the results are relevant to medical care on the ground. "The ADUM project has begun to provide a great and useful capability onboard the ISS with direct implications to improve life on Earth in the fields of emergency, rural and remote medicine," he said.
Astronauts experience a reduction in bone, muscle and tendon mass during prolonged exposure to microgravity, increasing their risk of injury. Strenuous physical labor during spacewalks and limited upper body and arm mobility in spacesuits make the shoulders particularly vulnerable.
For this component of the ADUM experiment, the team evaluated the ability of a nonphysician crewmember on the ISS to obtain quality, shoulder musculokeletal data from another crewmember using real-time remote guidance. The crewmembers attended a 2-hour ultrasound training session four months before launch and completed a one-hour computer-based training program while onboard the space station.