Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Brave Stars of Bedrest


Such exciting news this week for the NASA Spaceflight Simulations! The avalanche continues from last week's press buzz across multiple networks, and was also picked up by some infamous social media rogues, such as "The Onion" and also "I F**king Love Science!"

Weight-lifting in space!

My blog still remains a record of multiple studies by both male and female participants, after we documented our space protocols, and some have also written HTML journals.  Now, a new study subject named Daniel Hare got the awesome idea to document his study on Facebook, keeping track entirely in daily Status Updates, photographs and videos!

Daniel, a 27-year-old native of Saint Paul, Minnesota, has just completed his 70-day bedrest phase! Way to hang in there, Daniel!  After simulating weightlessness for over 2 months, he just "returned" to Earth today, and will begin his rehabilitation phase!

Contrary to myth (and wild, anxious speculation on the comment section on many press articles), the studies are neither crippling nor so degrading to bone and muscle that additional medical bills are necessary. The NASA rehab protocols are thorough, and just like astronauts returning from orbit, exercise and nutrition helps everyone return to normal daily activities within a few weeks or months.

Candidate 1122 grows a beard in bed...

His Facebook status record actually starts with the screening phase of the NASA studies, including the hotel facilities candidates are treated to, and some details about the auditions.

The best part are his videos. I had no YouTube channel when I first joined, so I never uploaded any videos until FOX did a story on us. Daniel actually had some folks take movies of him while in various testing phases on the Flight Analogs Research Unit (FARU).

Curious about the meals you are served in space simulations? Ever wanted to know how to shave or cut your hair while lying down at a -6 degree tilt to simulate weightlessness? He documents the power cycle test, shock-enhanced isokinetics, and of course, the ever-famous Enhanced Zero-Gravity Locomotion (eZLS), colloquially referred to as the "Vertical Treadmill."

Daniel with the BBC film crew

In an exciting turn of events, the British Broadcasting Corporation just visited the NASA medical floors to film a documentary!  Daniel is awaiting final word on when the program will be aired, both on the BBC in Europe, and on the Discovery Channel in America. We'll be keeping tabs and hoping for a Spring 2014 release date.

Daniel documents all his procedures on his Facebook page, including exertion trials, ultrasounds, MRIs, muscle biopsy (I didn't have to go through that one myself, though I remember two other men who did),and other medical details. No word on how much of this will actually be documented, or if the show is more geared toward the patient's point of view versus the scientist investigators. I'm hoping for a clean balance, so that the studies are presented objectively to the public!

Thumbs up! Going for a run!

I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of how Daniel and his fellow study participants passed the time with games, language lessons, movies, and various TV shows. Hey, another Game of Thrones devotee!  All the fun times made the medical tests fade into the background, because the camaraderie on the ward makes for unique friendships.

Daniel rises from bed today after his 70-day weightlessness simulation! Follow him on Facebook to see how he re-adjusts to Earth gravity!  Click on any of the photos above to go to his page.