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Hip load capacity cut-points for Astronaut Skeletal Health NASA Finite Element Strength Task Group Recommendations.


Concerns raised at a 2010 Bone Summit held for National Aeronautics and Space Administration Johnson Space Center led experts in finite element (FE) modeling for hip fracture prediction to propose including hip load capacity in the standards for astronaut skeletal health. The current standards for bone are based upon areal bone mineral density (aBMD) measurements by dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) and an adaptation of aBMD cut-points for fragility fractures. Task Group members recommended (i) a minimum permissible outcome limit (POL) for post-mission hip bone load capacity, (ii) use of FE hip load capacity to further screen applicants to astronaut corps, (iii) a minimum pre-flight standard for a second long-duration mission, and (iv) a method for assessing which post-mission physical activities might increase an astronaut's risk for fracture after return. QCT-FE models of eight astronaut were analyzed using nonlinear single-limb stance (NLS) and posterolateral fall (NLF) loading configurations. QCT data from the Age Gene/Environment Susceptibility (AGES) Reykjavik cohort and the Rochester Epidemiology Project were analyzed using identical modeling procedures. The 75th percentile of NLS hip load capacity for fractured elderly males of the AGES cohort (9537N) was selected as a post-mission POL. The NLF model, in combination with a Probabilistic Risk Assessment tool, was used to assess the likelihood of exceeding the hip load capacity during post-flight activities. There was no recommendation to replace the current DXA-based standards. However, FE estimation of hip load capacity appeared more meaningful for younger, physically active astronauts and was recommended to supplement aBMD cut-points.

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