Patient simulator will enhance training for medical emergencies in space

stronaut by gathering data on the current astronaut pool. Physiologic changes that occur in space as a mission progresses also are programmed into the computer, so that realistic space scenarios can be created.

"We're developing programmed scenarios for possible emergencies, such as crush trauma, inhalation burn, allergic reactions, decompression sickness, eye injury, respiratory distress, or myocardial infarction," said Doerr, director of the Houston Center for Advanced Patient Simulation at Baylor College of Medicine. "Each scenario looks at how the injury or illness can be treated with the equipment on board and for how long."

NSBRI researchers, who study the health problems associated with long-term space flight, will participate in planning for the different medical contingencies. Once the scenarios are complete, Doerr says training will be most effective if it occurs in a room that mimics the size, look and sounds of areas available for medical care on the International Space Station.

"When teaching, you must be able to make the participants suspend disbelief. It is hard to think clearly in a medical emergency. We're trying to create enough stress to make it realistic, so that they will fail," he said. "Once they see how difficult it can be, we explain why they failed, work through the problems and do it until they succeed."

Doerr, who trains anesthesiology residents and firefighters on simulators, says this type of training will give astronauts the tools to work through an emergency medical situation more effectively.

"The practice sessions teach critical thinking and critical communications. They learn how to communicate clearly to ground crews and each other during medical emergencies," Doerr said. "Crews will be prepared to provide the best in-flight medical care possible."


Contact: Kathy Major
National Space Biomedical Research Institute

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