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Neurovestibular Session SummaryOman - The early mission operational problems caused by space motion sickness have been largely resolved in recent years. This has been achieved by appropriate timeline adjustments, voluntary head movement restriction, and judicious use of promethazine. Crew members now simply accept that some symptoms "come with the job," and usually last only a few days. But as more people have flown longer flights, we've seen cases of space sickness and inversion illusion that take several weeks to resolve. Visual reorientation illusions continue throughout long flights, and occasionally cause difficulties. EVA astronauts sometimes suddenly fear they will fall out of the payload bay or off of the RMS or Strella arms. Orientation and navigation in three dimensions in the MIR station reportedly does not come naturally, because modules have different visual verticals. It is clear that the neurovestibular problems of spaceflight have not disappeared. After return to Earth, many crew members are disoriented and ataxic in the first hour after return, and require assistance leaving the vehicle, Flight surgeons say that the longer the mission, the stronger the aftereffects, certain of which last for weeks. We do not yet know how to predict who will be afflicted. Looking ahead to 3-4 month long voyages to Mars, it seems obvious that if cruise is in O-G, the crew may encounter neurovestibular problems on arrival. Artificial G may be broadly effective as a countermeasure for many of the physiological changes of spaceflight, but from the neurovestibular perspective, it is a double-edged sword. We know that the Coriolis stimulus resulting from rotation is potentially disorienting and nauseogenic. But we don't yet know how much artificial G will be enough, nor how successfully people can adapt to a specific angular velocity and hypo G level. Development of countermeasures remains a big challenge for our neurovestibular community. Maintaining an interdisciplinary perspective is important. Three examples were presented at this meeting: 1) Transgenic animal experiments suggest that in addition to the light illumination cycle, vestibular inputs may also serve as an important input to the circadian system. 2) Radiation can cause important CNS effects in animals, including loss of spatial memory. 3) As described in our session, otolith inputs may contribute to cardiovascular regulation of orthostatic tolerance. Over the past three days, we've all enjoyed catching up with old friends, and making many new ones. On behalf of my colleagues, I want to thank Al Coats and the USRA DSLS staff for the great job they did in running this meeting. And keeping the emphasis on fun. And also my Co- Chair, Mal Cohen, who had more stamina than many of us, despite major surgery only three weeks ago. Mal and I have written a few lines describing each of the seventeen papers in our session, to give you a quick over-view, and as a guide to the full abstracts, We have grouped them under five themes: preflight and inflight countermeasurements, postlanding posture and locomotion deficits: assessment and prediction, adaptive processes, relationships among physical simuli, perceptions, and eye movements, vestibular contribution to human autonomic responses, and implications and recommendations.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Oman, Charles
(Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. Cambridge, MA United States)
Cohen, Malcolm
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1999
Publication Information
Publication: Proceedings of the First Biennial Space Biomedical Investigators' Workshop
Subject Category
Aerospace Medicine
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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