Dynamic countermeasure fabrics for post-spaceflight orthostatic intolerance

Rachael M. Granberry, Kevin P. Eschen, Amy J. Ross, Julianna M. Abel, Bradley T. Holschuh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


INTRODUCTION: Aerospace orthostatic intolerance garments (OIG) have historically been pneumatic (e.g., NASA's antigravity suit), an approach that inhibits mobility and requires connection to an air supply. Elastic compression garments, an alternative technology, are difficult to don/doffand cannot be worn in a noncompressive state, resulting in discomfort and usability challenges. This research evaluates a novel technology-contractile shape memory alloy (SMA) knitted actuators-that can enable low-profile, dynamic compression for an aerospace OIG. METHODS: To characterize the functional capabilities of SMA knitted actuators, displacement control testing was conducted on 10 actuator samples with a range of geometric design parameters. Inactive (FI) and actuated forces (FA) were observed by repeatedly thermally cycling each sample at 0%, 15%, 30%, and 45% structural strain. Compression capabilities were approximated using medical compression hosiery standards and anthropometric data from a representative aerospace population (ANSUR 2012). RESULTS: Dynamic compression predictions reached 52 mmHg (single layer fabric) and 105 mmHg (double layer fabric) at the ankle. Low, inactive pressures (p, 20 mmHg) demonstrate that compression is controllable and can be dynamically increased upon actuation up to 33 mmHg in a single layer system and up to 67 mmHg in a double layer system. DISCUSSION: The results highlight the potential of SMA knitted actuators to enable low-profile, dynamic compression garments that can reach medically therapeutic pressures on an aerospace population to counteract OI symptoms. In addition to astronautic applications, this technology demonstrates widespread terrestrial medical and high-performance aircraft applicability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5560
Pages (from-to)525-531
Number of pages7
JournalAerospace Medicine and Human Performance
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


  • Functional fabrics
  • Medical compression
  • Orthostatic intolerance
  • Shape memory alloys

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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