D is for DEXA scan

D is for DEXA which stands for Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry.

Have you ever seen images of astronauts harnessed to a treadmill whilst on the space station?

Ever wondered why they are running in space attached to the treadmill? It’s a special treadmill called a Combined Operational Load-Bearing External Resistance Treadmill that has been designed to mimic the impact on the bones of running on earth. The astronauts need the impact to promote bone growth just like we do on earth. The space agencies worked this out due to the bone density tests they carry out on astronauts before and after any trip to space along with extended stays at the international space station.

The astronaut’s bone density is measured using a DEXA machine. It’s a specialist x-ray machine that uses much lower radiation levels than normal x-ray machines.

Have you ever had a DEXA scan?

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