Prolonged exposure to microgravity is known to cause various acute health risks, including muscle atrophy, bone loss, cardiovascular deconditioning, and orthostatic intolerance. Due to the absence of gravitational force, bodily fluid hydrostatic pressure gradients vanish, and blood distribution shifts from the astronaut's legs toward their upper body. Consequently, it is imperative to provide continuous medical check-ups and interventions for astronauts and crewmembers throughout their long-term journey in outer space and also after their return to Earth.
PS-Suit is an active bioelectronic intra-vehicular activity spacesuit that could simultaneously perform wireless multi-modal monitoring of vital signs, including heart electrical activity, respiration, blood flow, and oxygen level and exert controlled, spatiotemporal and peristaltic pressure through five textile-based compression sensors and five pneumatic chambers integrated across the bodysuit. Integrating physiological and physical sensing and pneumatic actuation systems in the PS-Suit (1) facilitates closed-loop and timely intervention for astronauts to regulate their cardiovascular dynamics and (2) enables researchers to study the direct influence of active-dynamic compression in micro to hypergravity conditions on various cardiovascular and physiological markers.
In the end, we tested and evaluated a functional prototype of the PS-Suit during a parabolic flight campaign to investigate the response of heart-rate and blood pulse arrival time to applied gradient compression and changes in gravitational force.