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One of the leading medical issues astronauts experience when facing extended stays in space is bone loss. Some space travelers have lost up to 20% of their bone mass on six month voyages. If the trip to Mars takes approximately 30 months, steps will need to be taken to reduce massive (and irreversible) bone loss. The Alan brace is designed to minimize spinal bone deterioration. The brace will be surgically implanted (either before a voyage as a precaution or on a voyage if bone loss is observed), with the screws being drilled into the vertebrae above and below each spinal disc (the most vulnerable areas). Since each individual piece is made out of silicone, the brace will be flexible enough to allow movement, but strong enough to make the spine hold its original shape. Approximately 19 will be needed for full coverage.
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