Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Abhijit Patwardhan


One countermeasure to cardiovascular spaceflight deconditioning being tested is the application of intermittent artificial gravity provided by centripetal acceleration of a human via centrifuge. However, artificial gravity protocols have not been optimized for the cardiovascular system, or any other physiological system for that matter. Before artificial gravity protocols can be optimized for the cardiovascular system, cardiovascular responses to the variables of artificial gravity need to be quantified.

The research presented in this document is intended to determine how the artificial gravity variables, radius (gravity gradient) and lower limb exercise, affect cardiovascular responses during centrifugation. Net fluid (blood) shifts between body segments (thorax, abdomen, upper leg, lower leg) will be analyzed to assess the cardiovascular responses to these variables of artificial gravity, as well as to begin to understand potential mechanism(s) underlying the beneficial orthostatic tolerance response resulting from artificial gravity training.

Methods: Twelve healthy males experienced the following centrifuge protocols. Protocol A: After 10 minutes of supine control, the subjects were exposed to rotational 1 Gz at radius of rotation 8.36 ft (2.54 m) for 2 minutes followed by 20 minutes alternating between 1 and 1.25 Gz. Protocol B: Same as A, but lower limb exercise (70% V02max) preceded ramps to 1.25 Gz. Protocol C: Same as A but radius of rotation 27.36 ft (8.33 m).

Results: While long radius without exercise presented an increased challenge for the cardiovascular system compared to short radius without exercise, it is likely at the expense of more blood “pooling” in the abdominal region. Whereas short radius with exercise provided a significant response compared to short radius without exercise. More fluid loss occurred from the thorax and with the increased fluid loss from the thorax blood did not “pool” in the abdominal region but instead was essentially “mobilized” to the upper and lower leg. The exercise fluid shift profile presented in this document is applicable to not only artificial gravity protocol design but also proposes a mechanistic reason as to why certain artificial gravity protocols are more effective than others in increasing orthostatic tolerance.