The weight-bearing exercise afforded by treadmill running on the International Space Station (ISS) is thought to be crucial for healthy musculoskeletal maintenance in space. The previous ISS Treadmill Harness caused discomfort in crew members, including chafing and bruising in the shoulders and hips. This discomfort is believed to be a major contributor to the sub-optimal loading on the treadmill, making the exercise less effective for protecting bone health.
From September 2009 through November 2010, a treadmill harness station development test objective, sponsored by the HRP’s Exercise Countermeasures Project, with ZIN Technologies and in collaboration with the early development team led by Dr. Peter Cavanagh at the Cleveland Clinic, collected on-orbit comfort and load data in a side-by-side comparison of the previous treadmill harness and a new design called the “Glenn Harness”. Six crewmembers participated in the study that captured crew member feedback on comfort in specific anatomical locations, fit and functionality of the harness. Both harnesses were instrumented with load-sensing devices developed specifically to provide insight into the total loading and load distributions between the hips and shoulders during treadmill exercise.
The data collected showed improvement in overall comfort, fit and function with the Glenn Harness, however the female shoulder strap assembly underwent further design modifications and was re-tested based on results and recommendations from the NASA Human Systems Risk Board. The Crew Office requested expedited development of an inventory of male and female harnesses in Small, Medium, Large, and Extra Large and successfully transitioned to operations in 2011. Glenn Harnesses are made by technical softgoods developer, Terrazign (Portland, OR), and are provided to each crewmember on the ISS today. The Glenn Harness is one of the great success stories to come out of the Human Research Program at NASA Glenn.
ISS – International Space Station