Monday, April 13, 2009

Why Space Hates Bones

While exploring other blogs, I found science writer Anne Minard, who wrote about the 84-day flight simulation run by the University of Washington (also added this one to my ARTICLES page, see the 2009 link to Physorg), where researchers worked with 22 volunteers on bed rest to address bone loss.

At Universe Today, she provided a look at "Why Space Hates Bones" -- pointing out that controlled bed rest episodes can help scientists understand how exercise programs affect age- and gender-related osteoporosis.

On her own blog, she featured study participant Tabitha Garcia, who “went to bed for science” at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic. The complementary pieces are very well-written, and include interesting photos. If you’re interested in applying for studies that involve the "walk up the wall" treadmill, there are details about what the projects entail… from both researcher and subject points of view(s).

Anne Minard's Blog
Tabitha, along with Dr. Peter Cavanagh (lead researcher and UW professor), were also interviewed by Seattle radio station KUOW 94.9 FM at the end of March.

The recording is 54 minutes long... and the first portion is devoted to "frugal travel" Q&A, so if you just want to hear the NASA part, allow the sound file to load and skip ahead to the 43-minute-mark. Not sure why they set the interview to eerie music, but Tabitha’s bubbly responses are easily audible and enjoyable, and I like the part where she says she would do it again!

Of course, when I listen to this sort of thing, I can’t help but make comparisons... all the studies have similar protocols, but there are differences from facility to facility. For instance, we showered on tilted gurneys, where as the UW folks rolled into a pool to bathe. They also had regular visits from massage therapists and psychologists, but of course the menus were slightly different.

Her advice to incoming participants? Do your stretches! So I gather she had the same daily stretching routines that I had. Always looked forward to those as a rare opportunity to move. Also, bring lots of paperback books and mechanical pencils.

Seems they didn’t give her a space pen either ;)

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