Friday, August 5, 2011

Alternate Compression Garment Study (ACG)


If you cannot spare the 70+ days required for the study described yesterday, another study seeking healthy volunteers is the ACG, or the Alternative Compression Garment study.

And when I say "volunteers", I actually mean PAID volunteers. NASA covers the cost of travel and hotels while you undergo screening for any program, and also compensate candidates for time spent. Upon entry, active study members make $160 per day, and then they also pay to send you home again – anywhere in the USA. In the 3 programs that I did, I met people from 8 different states!

Alternate Compression Garment Study
Anyway, back to compression garments! Sexy, huh?

Most folks will wear these for one day or three days after 2 weeks of head-down tilt bedrest to mimic weightlessness. I tried the leg compression stockings once in a lunar gravity study that was covered by Fox 26 Houston at the time.

It was probably the warmest my feet had been in years. I always seem to have cold toes! I haven't yet had the chance to try the whole garment, but this upgraded study will see if they are useful in terms of "cardiovascular re-adaptation" after space flight.

Tilt tests are probably the most well-known of the astronaut drills at the NASA study facility, except maybe for centrifuge rides. These are done before and after bed rest phases to determine physiological baseline and later changes.

NASA Tilt Test
The always popular Tilt Test

Results of the study will help scientists describe the time it takes for cardiovascular system to re-adapt to upright posture during recovery days following bed rest. Will custom compression suits affect the amount of time needed to re-adjust to normal, upright posture?

In other words, how can doctors keep an astronaut from fainting and falling when the return to normal gravity on Earth? This answer is often different from person to person, and different between males and females.

Female volunteers are particularly in short supply most times, and NASA always needs more candidates, so I continually encourage eligible women to apply if they can get the time off work to try out the programs. Tell a friend if you know someone who wants to go play astronaut! :)