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Postural Equilibrium Control During Landing/Egress (DSO 605)
Principal Investigator
Research Area:
Species Studied
Scientific Name: Homo sapiens Species: Human

Human sensory-motor systems have evolved to optimize coordinated body movements and posture control in the terrestrial gravitational field. The central nervous system (CNS) has developed neurosensory systems that monitor and process sensory inputs to assess the biomechanical state of the body (spatial orientation), and neuromotor systems that create, select, and issue motor commands to correct biomechanical state errors. Neurosensory systems respond to the sudden loss of graviceptor (otolith) stimulation during space flight by remodeling the sensory information integration processes used to assess spatial orientation. Also, the neuromotor system responds to the sudden loss of the static gravitational biomechanical load by modifying the repertoire of motor command strategies and synergies used for movement control. These in-flight sensory-motor adaptations optimize neural control of movement in microgravity but, unfortunately, are maladaptive for the terrestrial gravitational field. Among the operationally relevant consequences of this maladaptation is a disruption in postural equilibrium control immediately after return to Earth.

DSO 605 was designed to build on the results of previous studies of postflight postural ataxia and to extend these results by (1) examining the components of neurosensory control of posture with a more sensitive posturography technique than previously used, (2) systematically evaluating the total postflight recovery process, (3) controlling explicitly for previous space flight experience, and (4) studying enough subjects to draw statistically significant conclusions. The ultimate goals of this study were (1) to characterize the recovery process for postural equilibrium control in crew members returning from Shuttle missions, and (2) to validate the dynamic posturography system as a dependent measure for future evaluation of vestibular and/or sensory-motor countermeasures.

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Black FO, Paloski WH, Doxey-Gasway DD, and Reschke MF. Vestibular plasticity following orbital spaceflight: recovery from postflight postural instability. Acta Otolaryngologica Supplementum. 1995; 520 Pt 2:450-4. []

Black FO, Paloski WH, Reschke MF, Igarashi M, Guedry F, and Anderson DJ. Disruption of postural readaptation by inertial stimuli following space flight. Journal of Vestibular Research: Equilibrium and Orientation. 1999; 9(5):369-78. []

Charles JB, Fritsch-Yelle JM, Whitson PA, Wood ML, Brown TE, Fortner GW. Cardiovascular deconditioning. In: Sawin CF, Taylor GR, Smith WL, editors. Extended Duration Orbiter Medical Project final report 1989-1995. Houston: NASA Johnson Space Center, 1999.

Nicholas SC, Doxey-Gasway DD, and Paloski WH. A link-segment model of upright human posture for analysis of head-trunk coordination. Journal of Vestibular Research: Equilibrium and Orientation. 1998 May-Jun;8(3):187-200. []

Paloski WH, Black FO, Metter EJ. Postflight balance control recovery in an elderly astronaut: a case report. Otol Neurotol. 2004 Jan;25(1):53-6.[]

Paloski WH, Black FO, Reschke MF, Calkins DS, and Shupert C. Vestibular ataxia following shuttle flights: effects of microgravity on otolith-mediated sensorimotor control of posture. American Journal of Otology. 1993, January;14(1):9-17. []

Paloski WH, Harm DL, Reschke MF, Doxey DD, Skinner NC, Michaud LJ, and Parker DE. Postural changes following sensory reinterpretation as an analog to spaceflight. In: David V, ed. Fourth European Symposium on Life Sciences Research in Space. Noordwijk, The Netherlands: ESA Publ. Div., 1990. 175-8. (European Space Agency SP; 307)

Paloski WH, Reschke MF, Black FO, Doxey DD, Harm DL, and Ann NY. Recovery of postural equilibrium control following spaceflight. Academy of Science. 1992, May 22;656:747-54. []

Paloski WH, Reschke MF, Black, FO, Doxey DD, and Harm DL. Recovery of Postural Equilibrium Control following Spaceflight. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 4.38). 06/1992; 656:747-54.

Reschke MF, Bloomberg JJ, Harm DL, and Paloski WH. Space flight and neurovestibular adaptation. Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 1994 Jun;34(6):609-17. []

Central nervous system
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Data Information
Data Availability
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Postural ataxia
Sway amplitude

Mission/Study Information
Mission Launch/Start Date Landing/End Date Duration
STS-26 09/29/1988 10/03/1988 4 days
STS-28 08/08/1989 08/13/1989 5 days
STS-35 12/02/1990 12/11/1990 9 days
STS-36 02/28/1990 03/04/1990 4 days
STS-39 04/28/1991 05/06/1991 8 days
STS-40 06/05/1991 06/14/1991 9 days
STS-41 10/06/1990 10/10/1990 4 days
STS-42 01/22/1992 01/30/1992 8 days
STS-43 08/02/1991 08/11/1991 9 days
STS-44 11/24/1991 12/01/1991 7 days
STS-49 05/07/1992 05/16/1992 9 days
STS-50 06/25/1992 07/09/1992 14 days
STS-51 09/12/1993 09/22/1993 10 days
STS-52 10/22/1992 11/01/1992 10 days
STS-53 12/02/1992 12/09/1992 7 days
STS-54 01/13/1993 01/19/1993 6 days
STS-56 04/08/1993 04/17/1993 9 days
STS-58 10/18/1993 11/01/1993 14 days
STS-62 03/04/1994 03/18/1994 14 days
STS-64 09/09/1994 09/20/1994 11 days
STS-65 07/08/1994 07/23/1994 15 days
STS-67 03/02/1995 03/18/1995 17 days
STS-68 09/30/1994 10/11/1994 11 days
STS-69 09/07/1995 09/18/1995 11 days
STS-73 10/20/1995 11/05/1995 16 days
STS-95 10/29/1998 11/07/1998 10 days

Additional Information
Managing NASA Center
Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Responsible NASA Representative
Johnson Space Center LSDA Office
Project Manager: Jessica Keune
Institutional Support
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Protocol / Approach
Not applicable