Effects of Long-Duration Microgravity on Fine Motor Skills: 1 year ISS Investigation (Fine Motor Skills) - 07.28.16

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
Fine motor skills are crucial for successfully interacting with touch-based technologies, repairing sensitive equipment, and a variety of other tasks. In the Effects of Long-Duration Microgravity on Fine Motor Skills: 1 year ISS Investigation (Fine Motor Skills), crew members perform a series of interactive tasks on a touchscreen tablet. The investigation is the first fine motor skills study to measure long-term microgravity exposure, different phases of microgravity adaptation, and sensorimotor recovery after returning to Earth gravity.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Kritina Holden, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: Fine Motor Skills

Principal Investigator(s)
Kritina Holden, Ph.D., Lockheed Martin, Houston, TX, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Aniko Sandor, Ph.D., Lockheed Martin, Houston, TX, United States
Ernest Vince Cross, Ph.D., Lockheed Martin, Houston, TX, United States

Developer(s)
NASA Johnson Space Center, Human Research Program, Houston, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
NASA Research Office - Human Research Program (NASA Research-HRP)

Research Benefits
Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery, Space Exploration

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - March 2016; March 2016 - September 2017

Expeditions Assigned
43/44,45/46,47/48,49/50,51/52

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Fine motor skills are critical during long-duration space missions, particularly those skills needed to interact with technologies required in next-generation space vehicles, spacesuits, and habitats. Crew fine motor skills are also necessary for performing tasks in transit or on a planetary surface, such as information access, just-in-time training, subsystem maintenance, and medical treatment.
  • There has not been a complete, systematic study of fine motor performance to include different phases of microgravity adaptation, long-term microgravity, and the sensorimotor recovery period after transition to Earth gravity.
  • The Fine Motor Skills study aims to determine the effects of long-duration microgravity and of different gravitational transitions on fine motor performance and functional task performance (human interaction with computer-based systems).
  • Fine Motor Skills utilizes a series of tests designed to evaluate various aspects of fine motor control as indicated by multidirectional pointing, dragging, shape tracing, and object manipulation (pinch-rotate). Data obtained from this study adds to our knowledge base and provides improved capabilities to judge the risk of fine motor performance decrements due to long-duration microgravity.
  • These data contribute to closure of several NASA research gaps, and may drive in-flight mitigations and design decisions for future vehicles and habitats.

Description

The aim of the proposed study is to determine the effects of long-duration microgravity and of different gravitational transitions on fine motor performance. Specifically:
  • How does fine motor performance in microgravity trend/vary over the duration of a six-month and year-long space mission?
  • How does fine motor performance on orbit compare with that of a closely matched participant on Earth?
  • How does performance trend/vary before and after gravitational transitions, including the periods of early flight adaptation, and very early/near immediate post-flight periods?
Data are obtained through software developed for measurement of fine motor function. This software utilizes a test battery of four tasks which examine speed/response time, and accuracy. The tasks include a multidirectional pointing task, a dragging task, a shape tracing task, and a pinch-rotate task.

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Applications

Space Applications
Fine motor skills are critical during long-duration space missions, especially for working with next-generation space vehicles, spacesuits, and habitats. This is the first investigation to systematically study how microgravity affects crew members’ fine motor skills, especially over a long-duration mission. Changes in crewmember sensorimotor skills could require countermeasures to protect crew safety and efficiency on future missions.

Earth Applications
Computer-based games and tasks are frequently used to measure and improve fine motor abilities in elderly patients, people with motor disorders, and patients with brain injuries. The tasks developed for the Fine Motor Skills investigation could also benefit patients on Earth undergoing rehabilitation for conditions that impair fine motor control.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols

Fine Motor Skills seeks participation from 2 extended duration subjects (US and Russian) and 1 ground subject during the 1 year mission. Fine Motor Skills also seeks participation from 6 standard duration crew members.
 
The first in-flight session should occur as soon as possible, but no later than FD2. The second session should occur no later than FD5 and there should be no less than 2 days and no more than 3 days between the first two sessions. After the first two sessions, sessions should occur every 5 days (+/- 2 days) for the first 3 months, and there should be no less than 3 days and no more than 7 days between any two consecutive tests. After the first 3 months (FD90), sessions should occur every 14 days (+/-2 days) for the rest of the flight, and there should be no less than 12 days and no more than 16 days between any two consecutive tests. The last session should occur within 7 days of landing.
 
Pre-flight, a familiarization session is conducted around L-90. Regular pre-flight sessions occur 4 times in the L-90 to L-60 timeframe at equally spaced intervals, with sessions no more than 7 days apart and no less than 2 days apart.
 
Post-flight sessions occur on R+1, 3 and 5 (+/-1 day) and R+15 and 30 (+/-2 days). There is also a data collection session on R+0, up to two times at the airport stopovers during the plane ride home.
 
Data are collected on a touch screen tablet and sent to the ISS server for downlink.

Approximately 37 in-flight data collection sessions for extended duration subjects and 25 for standard duration subjects are conducted for Fine Motor Skills. Each in-flight data collection session consists of a 15 minute test, performed on a touch screen tablet. A test battery of four tasks that examine various aspects of fine motor performance, as well as a questionnaire are completed. The tasks are the following: multidirectional pointing task, a dragging task, a shape tracing task, and a pinch-rotate task.
 
Preferably, subjects perform the test in the same environment each time: good lighting conditions, comfortable body and hand posture, no distractions or multitasking (talking, listening to music or other tasks). Subjects are asked to wear the corrective lenses/glasses they normally wear for everyday operations. Sessions should be performed on the same iPad each time.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites

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Imagery

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Example of one of the Fine Motor Skills tasks: Circle Tracing with stylus.

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Example of one of the Fine Motor Skills tasks: Pinch-rotate.

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