Finally, JAP study shows headdown bedrest precisely mimics human physiology in spaceflight

With President Bush talking up trips to the moon and Mars, and a new satellite circling the red planet, ever wonder what it feels like in space? The expensive way to find out is to hitch a ride on a parabolic aircraft trip, where you may get up to 90 "weightless" sessions of about 20 seconds each.

But if you want to find out how space flight actually affects the body, just lie down and recline your head at a 6-degree angle below your feet for a few days.

A study in the March issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology shows for the first time that a person at "reclining bedrest" reacts almost exactly the way an astronaut's body adapts to space.

According to lead author Todd Trappe: "Over 17 days in space, like in bedrest, we found that our ability to work or exercise began to fall almost immediately. It reached a low point at 13 days because the cardiorespiratory "engine" lost the ability to provide the body with oxygen it needs."

"This has important implications for aiding earthbound elderly, bedridden, and other individuals subjected to periods of inactivity, and also for helping to ensure the ability of our space travelers to operate as far out as Mars," Trappe added.

The paper, "Cardiorespiratory responses to physical work during and following 17 days of bedrest and spaceflight," appears in the March issue of the Journal of Applied Physiology (JAP), published by the American Physiological Society. Research was by Todd Trappe, Scott Trappe, Gary Lee and David Costill of Ball State University, Indiana, and Jeffrey Widrick and Robert Fitts of Marquette University, Wisconsin.

Soviet-U.S. interaction set 6-degree standard, but Trappe et al. showed it works

Since the early space flights in the 1960s, researchers in the U.S. and Soviet Union knew they needed an earth-bound way to study the physiology of space flight (SF). Early experiments used "chair rest," since space explorers were strapped in a chair.

Contact: Mayer Resnick
American Physiological Society

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