Saturday, 29 September 2012

Hospitals in space, or brief therapy getaways

One time I wrote an article about surviving the hazardous environment in space or long periods of time. But what about the benefits of zero gravity and can be a therapeutic way to heal?. I guess one obvious way is that micro gravity allows freedom of movement, and that people with weak muscles or possible limb injury could one day have the freedom an to move on their own effort.
Despite the fact that 2% of skeletal bone mass is lost during weightlessness in a month, it could be an environment in-which the disabled could be motivated to move with what ever mussels they have. To reduce muscle and bone loss, humans have to exercise for two or more hours every day. It's not just a matter of running on a treadmill or doing some sit ups - odd looking contraptions have been designed to make exercising in zero gravity effective.
The most common problem experienced by humans in the initial hours of weightlessness is known as space adaptation syndrome or SAS, commonly referred to as space sickness. Symptoms of SAS include nausea and vomiting, vertigo, headaches, lethargy, and overall malaise. Roughly 45% of all people who have flown in space have suffered from this condition. The duration of space sickness varies, but in no case has it lasted for more than 72 hours, after which the body adjusts to the new environment.
Astronauts subject to long periods of weightlessness wear pants with elastic bands attached between waistband and cuffs to compress the leg bones and reduce osteopenia. Other significant effects include fluid redistribution (causing the "moon-face" appearance typical of pictures of astronauts in weightlessness), a slowing of the cardiovascular system, decreased production of red blood cells, balance disorders, and a weakening of the immune system. Lesser symptoms include loss of body mass, nasal congestion, sleep disturbance, excess flatulence, and puffiness of the face. These effects begin to reverse quickly upon return to the Earth. In addition, after long space flight missions, male astronauts may experience severe eyesight problems. Such eyesight problems may be a major concern for future deep space flight missions, including a manned mission to the planet Mars.
Liquids and gases, have a tendency to act differently in the microgravity environment of the International Space Station, regardless of their density, or mass. The Binary Colloidal Alloy Test-6 - Phase Separation, or BCAT-6, investigation looks at how liquids and gases separate and come together in microgravity. This helps researchers to understand the fundamental questions about what happens when gases and liquids separate from each other, along with resulting patterns in the way solids are suspended in liquids. The results of this physics investigation may be used in the creation of better formulas and stabilizers to extend shelf life for products, foods, and medicines; and advances in propellant research for future rocket engines.
Also Astrogenetix has entered into a Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA that commits to providing the critical resources needed to continue utilizing the International Space Station (ISS) and to further the development of important on-orbit microgravity vaccines and therapeutic drug experiments.
Astrogenetix entered into a similar SAA in 2009 resulting in 12 successful missions on the Space Shuttle that led to the discovery of potential vaccine targets for both salmonella and MRSA. This experience clearly identified that the most important part of the discovery process is the repeated frequency of access to microgravity. The new SAA reflects this important priority and NASA has committed to provide a minimum of 28 missions between 2013 and 2016.
Hygiene issues arise when dealing with low gravity environments. On the International Space Station, there are no showers, and astronauts instead take short sponge baths, with one cloth used to wash, and another used to rinse. Since surface tension causes water and soap bubbles to adhere to the skin, very little water is needed. Special non-rinsing soap is used, as well as special non-rinsing shampoos. Since a flush toilet would not work in low gravity environments, a special toilet was designed, that has suction capability.

Meanwhile researchers from SRI International conducted the first-ever robotic surgery demonstration in a simulated zero-gravity environment. SRI is collaborating with researchers and surgeons from the University of Cincinnati to evaluate the benefits of robotic surgery (or tele-operated robot) on air and space flights. The extreme environment experiments were performed aboard a NASA C-9 aircraft, in simulated microgravity of space.
Blood and bodily fluids cannot be contained in zero gravity, which means there is currently no way to perform surgery in space without contaminating the cabin. This makes an extended stay problematic, says James Antaki at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Antaki is part of a team of US researchers developing an astro-surgical tool that could help. The Aqueous Immersion Surgical System, or AISS, is a transparent box that creates a watertight seal when it is placed over a wound and pumped full of sterile saline solution, says George Pantalos at the University of Louisville in Kentucky.
The saline solution is held under pressure inside the AISS to prevent blood from seeping out of the wound. Airtight holes allow surgeons to access the submerged wound using handheld and orthoscopic instruments. By varying the pressure within the AISS, the device could also be used to siphon up and recycle blood.
"You won't have a blood bank in space, so if there is bleeding you want to save as much blood as you can," says James Burgess, also at Carnegie Mellon, who came up with the concept. Researchers will put the system to the test aboard NASA's zero-gravity C-9 aircraft next week in the first of several experiments planned. They will perform surgery on an artificial coronary system filled with synthetic blood to test its ability to keep blood inside the body and out of the surgeon's field of view. Other experiments are likely to include a sub-orbital flight test, says Pantalos.
In the event of a medical emergency on board the space station, the only current option is to evacuate the astronaut back to Earth. This is not only dangerous for the patient but it is also extremely expensive, says Haidegger. Fortunately, however, no such emergency has yet occurred.
My own conclusion is that, if such concepts of living in space for recreational purposes. It might be possible that medical facilities will be needed for the potential hotels. Considering that space Tourism might draw in a lot of people, health a safety issues needs to be met, and accidents will happen!. Perhaps it's not practical to have medical surgeries in space, due free floating body funds that could short circuit equipment. But as a form of therapy it can be quite beneficial for someone with a injured leg to quickly heal on a zero gravity treadmill, restoring the muscles. Hotels will also equalize the mobility of anyone who chose to stay there if they are disabled or fully functional. Also with advances to zero gravity research it is likely that medicines will be manufactured in space. The research of micro gravity on health is still continuing and will probably help in the run up to a proposed mission to mars, by then technology might have a solution for all our medical needs...

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