Myotones: ISS research helps improve rehabilitation in muscle and bone atrophy

The Myotones project aims to analyse the basic biomechanical properties of the skeletal muscles in a non-invasive way, using a small, handheld device. With MyotonPRO, changes in human resting muscle (tone, elasticity and rigidity) caused by lack of gravity are measured and evaluated for astronauts onboard the ISS. The technology has already been successfully applied in bed rest studies; moreover, the device has already proven to be suitable for taking measurements under microgravity during parabolic flights.

MyotonPRO measures the passive characteristics of near-surface skeletal muscles in the same way a doctor would by palpation, checking for areas of tension and hardening in the muscles when relaxed. A short mechanical stimulus is placed on the surface of the skin, and the vibration of the muscle beneath is measured digitally. The data provides precise information about the elasticity, stiffness and tone of the examined resting muscle. For the first time, this makes it possible to determine the state of muscles objectively, quickly and easily.

In addition to monitoring the physiological parameters of astronauts on the International Space Station ISS, this method also allows for monitoring and better evaluation of the success of countermeasures against muscular and bone atrophy in the form of sports programmes before, during and after the astronauts’ sojourn on the ISS. On Earth, the findings are used to optimise rehabilitation and training programmes, and for the objective assessment of the success of training in fitness regimes and competitive sports. According to the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA), incapacity to work caused production losses of around 64 billion Euros in Germany in 2015. Around a quarter of these losses were due to diseases connected to muscles, bones and connective tissue. Taking this into account, optimised therapies, training programmes and an objective evaluation of the effectiveness in clinic and practice are important.


Elke Heinemann

Digital Communications
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Corporate Communications
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne
Tel: +49 2203 601-1852

Volker Schmid

ISS Specialist Group Leader, Head of the Cosmic Kiss Mission
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
German Space Agency at DLR
Science and Exploration
Königswinterer Straße 522-524, 53227 Bonn

Martin Fleischmann

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
German Space Agency at DLR
Communications & Media Relations
Königswinterer Straße 522-524, 53227 Bonn
Tel: +49 228 447-120