Canadian Space Agency awards grant to SFU kinesiologist
Professor Andrew Blaber to study physiology of how space flight affects astronauts’ return to Earth
Simon Fraser University kinesiology professor Andrew Blaber has received a $371,000 grant from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to study the effects of prolonged bed rest on cardiovascular and posture control.
Astronauts frequently experience dizziness and light-headedness upon standing after landing on Earth, which could lead to fainting and falls. Blaber’s research will simulate space-like conditions on Earth and investigate the connection between the control of posture muscles and cardiovascular response.
Twenty subjects taking part in study will be bedridden for 60 days. They will be confined to an inclined bed with the head at an angle six degrees lower than the body, which produces some of the same effects on the body as weightlessness in space.
“Bed rest is a space analogue,” says Blaber. “What we’re going to do is this new test, which will allow us to assess whether or not interaction between the posture control and cardiovascular systems have become disconnected.”
Blaber’s research will benefit more than returning astronauts. Many of the physiological changes astronauts undergo in space are similar to problems related with aging and physical inactivity.
“One of the major failings in hospitalization and immobilization is that treatment focuses on the patient’s injury but does not prepare the person for exit,” says Blaber. “If we understand how these systems work together, we can optimize it so that when a person comes out of bed rest we can quickly get them to a point where they can walk on their own as opposed to needing additional care.”
WHY IT MATTERS:
Research outcomes of the new study will lead to develop countermeasures for astronauts returning from space. Additionally, this research will:
- Help understand the mechanics of falls and develop fall prevention strategies for the elderly.
- Help create treatments for patients who require bed rest or immobilization for prolonged periods.
- Help understand the mechanics and treatment of concussions.
Canadian Space Agency
- Simulating space on Earth to help protect astronauts
- New Canadian Studies in the field of space health research
ABOUT SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY:
As Canada's engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement. SFU was founded 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university—to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is Canada’s leading comprehensive research university and is ranked one of the top universities in the world. With campuses in British Columbia’s three largest cities – Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey – SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 35,000 students, and boasts more than 135,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.
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