Original Article

European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 114, Issue 3, pp 597-608

First online:

Gradient compression garments protect against orthostatic intolerance during recovery from bed rest

  • Michael B. StengerAffiliated withWyle Science, Technology and Engineering Group Email author 
  • , Stuart M. C. LeeAffiliated withWyle Science, Technology and Engineering Group
  • , L. Christine RibeiroAffiliated withWyle Science, Technology and Engineering Group
  • , Tiffany R. PhillipsAffiliated withWyle Science, Technology and Engineering Group
  • , Robert J. Ploutz-SnyderAffiliated withUniversities Space Research Association
  • , Michael C. WilligAffiliated withJES Tech
  • , Christian M. WestbyAffiliated withUniversities Space Research Association
  • , Steven H. PlattsAffiliated withBiomedical Research and Environmental Sciences Division, NASA Johnson Space Center

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Abdomen-high, lower body graded compression garments (GCGs) may represent the next-generation of orthostatic intolerance protection with applications for exploration missions and commercial space flight.


To evaluate the efficacy of the GCG to prevent orthostatic intolerance after a 14-day 6° head-down tilt bed rest (BR) and to determine whether wearing thigh-high compression garments impairs recovery from BR.


Sixteen (12 M, 4 F) subjects participated in a 15-min 80° head-up tilt test 5 day before BR (BR-5), on the last morning of BR (BR+0), and on day 1 (BR+1) and 3 after BR (BR+3). No subjects wore the GCG on BR-5, and all subjects wore the GCG during testing on BR+0. Control subjects (n = 8) wore the GCG only through testing on BR+0. Treatment subjects (n = 8) wore the GCG on BR+0 and thigh-high garments on BR+1 and BR+2.


No subjects were presyncopal during tilt on BR+0 while wearing the GCG. Despite lower plasma volume index (BR-5: 1.52 ± 0.06, BR+0: 1.32 ± 0.05 l/m2), the tilt-induced increase in heart rate (ΔHR, 17 ± 2 bpm) and decrease in stroke volume (ΔSV, −28 ± 3 ml) on BR+0 were less than on BR-5 (24 ± 2 bpm, −43 ± 4 ml). On BR+1 ΔHR in the control group (33 ± 4 bpm) was higher than in the treatment group (23 ± 2 bpm) but there were no group differences on BR+3.


Wearing the GCG prevented the orthostatic intolerance that is normally present after BR. Thigh-high garments provided protection after BR, and wearing these garments did not impair recovery.


Spaceflight Countermeasure Anti-gravity suit Tilt test Presyncope