Friday, January 18, 2013

Astronaut of the Pillow


Last post, I mentioned the newest Space Flight Simulation, in which the European Space Agency sponsors a study program for 12 participants of both genders, at an ESA facility in Toulouse, France.

Four pillownauts will spend 21 days in bed while engaging in recumbent weight-training and a vibrating exercise contraption. Another foursome will engage in the same, but add whey protein to their diets to see if there is any difference in muscle building. A final four will spend the same amount of time in bed, but lacking any of these attempts at "countermeasures".  Throughout the program, they will undergo various tests and experiments.

Vladyslav Atavin
The infamous TILT TEST

I was thrilled to hear from healthy volunteer Vladyslav Atavin,who has created very informative and picture-saturated descriptions of his experiences!  Vlad's blog, entitled Astronaute sur l'oreiller: histoire du sujet "L", literally translates into English as "Astronaut on the Pillow: The History of Subject L".

I guess "L" was his identifier in the study!  We had numbers at NASA, but very seldom saw our names on things, unless we made it public ourselves.

Beginning this past November, Vlad described his screening process for SpaceFlight Simulations, his many bouts of medical activities, funny stories such as falling asleep during a DEXA Scan (oops!), and he was even brave enough to allow a camera in their shower facility (SFW).

Vlad Bed Rest Study
All For Science!

Many protocols are identical to those used at NASA: -6 degree tilt, food regimen, calculated fluid intake, blood tests and urinalysis, plasma volume measurements, DEXA bone scans to score bone mineral density, and neurological balance tests; and also minor details, such as having to shave certain body areas to accommodate electrodes, and having massages to prevent thrombosis.

There were a few differences in their program, such as the timing and sequences of tests, use of a vibrating platform to stimulate muscle and bone in one control group, and more advanced ocular testing. Also, they got ginger tea and evening snacks. NASA testers never got those! Must lodge a complaint!

They had a much larger array of French, Irish, Austrian, German, and Italian scientists running experiments, and had to endure far more invasive procedures, such as a biopsy, which a non-squeamish researched caught on film (WARNING: Do not click if blood or medical procedures makes you queasy!).

Vlad in Bedrest Studies
Oh my, what a rough life, eh?

Their full study will take places in 3 major phases throughout 2013. Vlad wrote about the first phase in French (easily translated through Google), will write about the second phase in English, and the third phase in Russian.

He is happy to field comments and questions on his Astronaute sur l'oreiller blog in any of these languages, so please hop on over to give him your support! :)