Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Compression Suit Study


Hot news out of the HTSF! In layman's terms, the Compression Suit Study refers to a new program at UTMB which will use an Alternate Compression Garment (ACG). Fancy way of saying "tight stuff like a space suit interior that squeezes me" – but from a medical point of view.

This one is good news for many of you who have emailed me over the years saying you "would totally sign up for a study if they weren’t so long, because I cannot get three months off work."

Can you get one month off work? Or more seriously, if you are healthy and out of work, this isn’t a bad way to hoof it and avoid taking handouts. So, screening for healthy folks who can hack the head-down tilt has begun! This study will be 34 days total, and aims to research the effectiveness of compression garments on regulating blood pressure after a short stint of head-down bed rest.

Jobst Compression Garments
Spacesuit Sim & Schedule

In the first 13 days, subjects will consume a special diet, but you are free to roam the NASA facility at the Flight Analog Research Unit (FARU) in between baseline tests. Then comes 14 days of bedrest to simulate spaceflight effects... and this phase also includes testing. Finally, there are 7 days of follow-up testing and recovery, though for such a short head-down stint, most healthy folks would bounce right back.

In that week long "recovery" period, you may be chosen to wear a compression garment, and your reactions will be compared to folks who haven't worn the same fitted suit. Will it affect re-adaptation to normal gravity? Your level of orthostatic intolerance will be tested to see!

I’ve actually worn these Jobst garments, when I participated in NASA's Lunar study. Some folks find them a bit tight, but I loved them because I am always, always cold –- and when I wore these it kept my toes warm. After awhile however, you forget you even have them on.

Looks like you're going zip-lining, but
really it’s to test your sense of balance

This comes on the heels of the news of iRATS 14 being completed, so the feasibility stage of that campaign was successful. That was the short test. Now the long test begins, which is iRATS 70. Yes 70 days! This one is flat instead of head down, and uses the eZLS vertical treadmill, detailed in yesterday’s post… and also featured prominently on NASA Edge, thank you Blair!

So, as we welcome summer in June, there will be lots of activity in the NASA ward – hoping to see two studies in full swing simultaneously! As ever, healthy non-smokers between the ages of 25-55 are needed, particularly females. Tell a friend if you know someone who wants to go play astronaut! :)

Mars500 Bedrest Study
Hey, it's Diego Urbina of the Mars500 simulation during bedrest experiment to simulate spaceflight! See... all the cool kids are doing it.