The use of an extended ventilation tube as a countermeasure for EVA-associated upper extremity medical issues

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Introduction: Onycholysis due to repetitive activity in the space suit glove during Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) training and during spaceflight extravehicular activity (EVA) is a common observation. Moisture accumulates in gloves during EVA task performance and may contribute to the development of pain and damage to the fingernails experienced by many astronauts. The study evaluated the use of a long ventilation tube to determine if improved gas circulation into the hand area could reduce hand moisture and thereby decrease the associated symptoms. Methods: The current Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) was configured with a ventilation tube that extended down a single arm of the crew member (E) and compared with the unventilated arm (C). Skin surface moisture was measured on both hands immediately after glove removal and a questionnaire administered to determine subjective measures. Astronauts (n = 6) were examined pre- and post-run. Results: There were consistent trends in the reduction of relative hydration ratios at dorsum (C = 3.34, E = 2.11) and first ring finger joint (C = 2.46, E = 1.96) when the ventilation tube was employed. Ventilation appeared more effective on the left versus the right hand, implying an interaction with hand anthropometry and glove fit. Symptom score was lower on the hand that had the long ventilation tube relative to the control hand in 2/6 EVA crew members. Conclusions: Increased ventilation to the hand was effective in reducing the risks of hand and nail discomfort symptoms from moderate to low in one-third of the subjects. Improved design in the ventilation capability of EVA spacesuits is expected to improve efficiency of air flow distribution.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jones, JA; Hoffman, RB; Buckland, DA; Harvey, CM; Bowen, CK; Hudy, CE; Strauss, S; Novak, J; Gernhardt, ML

Published Date

  • October 1, 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 63 / 7-10

Start / End Page

  • 763 - 768

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0094-5765

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.actaastro.2007.12.067

Citation Source

  • Scopus