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Sports and Fitness

Sports and Fitness

Since the dawn of the Space Age, the world has benefited from the transfer of NASA ingenuity into the marketplace. Spinoffs are the product of NASA technology development, partnerships, research, patent licenses, waivers and facility use.

Space Suit Design > Injury Treatment

Space is a hostile environment. The development of sophisticated suits to protect our astronauts living among the stars was a high priority for America’s space exploration agenda. Bill Elkins worked with NASA at Ames Research Center to develop space suits for our moonwalkers during the Apollo Era—he went on to use his garment expertise to treat athletic injuries and alleviate pain for patients suffering from Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Elkins leveraged what he learned designing liquid-cooled space suits to found CoolSystems Inc. and develop the Game Ready™ Accelerated Recovery System.

The product goal is simple: accelerate healing and reduce recovery time. The novel system incorporates deep tissue cooling therapy and intermittent compression through a control unit that can be adapted to a variety of injuries by selecting the appropriate ergonomic wrap. As cool water flows through these wraps, temperature and pressure can be modulated to reduce pain, swelling and tissue damage. The Game Ready™ Accelerated Recovery System has been embraced by the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA and the NCAA to name a few. A sister product is in development to help alleviate pain experience by MS patients.

Human Spaceflight > Heat Exhaustion Detection

From smoldering sunlit regions to frigid dark shadows, astronauts performing Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVAs) are exposed to temperatures ranging from 250 °F to – 250 °F. Though their spacesuits are designed to withstand inhospitable conditions, spacewalks require immense physical exertion and may last hours without breaking. NASA monitors rising core body temperatures to mitigate risk of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. A device developed to monitor astronaut vital parameters is now in use by athletic trainers and physicians throughout the country.

Developed through NASA partnerships, the CorTemp Ingestible Core Body Thermometer Pill is providing medical professionals a new tool to reduce risks of heat exhaustion and heatstroke—the third leading cause of death among athletes in the United States. The ¾ inch pill provides wireless, noninvasive monitoring of a user’s core body temperatures in real time. Trainers can track up to 99 athlete signals on a handheld device and receive alerts when readings are within a dangerous range. The pill can also be used to ensure the safety of emergency response teams and deep sea divers.

Crew Launch Safety > Shock Absorbing Helmets

Temper foam was developed NASA’s Ames Research Center over four decades ago to protect our astronauts during launch and today continues to evolve to benefit those of us with our feet on the ground. The foam derived from NASA mission requirements has valuable shock-absorbing properties—about 340% impact shock reduction. The material has been incorporated into helmets, padding and shin guards to protect our athletes.

More recently, temper foam advancements have been used by NASCAR, Formula 1 and other racing organizations to improve safety parameters and provide ergonomic driver protection solutions. Off the track and field, you may find the NASA-derived material in amusement park rides, prostheses and airplanes.