Feasibility Assessment of an Extravehicular Activity Glove Sensing Platform to Evaluate Potential Hand Injury Risk Factors



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45th International Conference on Environmental Systems


Injuries to the hands are common among astronauts who train for extravehicular activity. When the gloves are pressurized, they restrict movement and create pressure points during tasks, sometimes resulting in pain, muscle fatigue, abrasions, and occasionally more severe injuries such as onycholysis. A brief review of NASA’s Lifetime Surveillance of Astronaut Health’s injury database reveals that 76% of astronaut hand and arm injuries from training between 1993 and 2010 occurred either to the fingernail, finger crotch, metacarpophalangeal joint, or fingertip. The purpose of this study was to assess the potential of using small sensors to measure forces acting on the fingers and hand within pressurized gloves and other variables such as blood perfusion, skin temperature, humidity, fingernail strain, and skin moisture, among others. Tasks were performed gloved and ungloved in a pressurized glove box. The test demonstrated that fingernails experienced greater transverse strain levels for tension or compression than for longitudinal strain, even during axial fingertip loading. Blood perfusion peaked and dropped as the finger deformed during finger presses, indicating an initial dispersion and decrease of blood perfusion levels. Force- sensitive resistors to force plate comparisons showed similar force curve patterns as fingers were depressed, indicating suitable functionality for future testing. Strategies for proper placement and protection of these sensors for ideal data collection and longevity through the test session were developed and will be implemented going forward for future testing.


Bellevue, Washington
Christopher R. Reid, Lockheed Martin/NASA-Johnson Space Center, USA
Shane M. McFarland, MEI Technologies/NASA-Johnson Space Center, USA
The 45th International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Bellevue, Washington, USA on 12 July 2015 through 16 July 2015.