Spaceflight promotes bone loss, University of Calgary study finds

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Spaceflight promotes bone loss, University of Calgary study finds

The study was partially funded by the Canadian Space Agency (on file).

A study by the Cumming School of Medicine at the University from Calgary finds prolonged weightlessness accelerates bone loss in astronauts.

The study, the results of which were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (in English), lasted seven years and covered 17 astronauts followed before and after their stay in space.

The researchers traveled to Johnson Space Center in Houston, NASA's space center in Texas, to scan the wrists and ankles of astronauts before they departed for space. The same operation is repeated as soon as they return to earth, then after six months, and again after a year.

The bone loss of space travelers is explained by the fact that in weightlessness, the effects of gravity disappear. Simply put, it occurs because bones that would normally bear weight on earth, such as those in the legs, don't have to bear weight in a weightless environment, the study authors say. .

We found that weight-bearing bones only partially recovered in most astronauts one year after spaceflight, says Dr. Leigh Gabel, assistant professor at the faculty of kinesiology and lead author of the study.

This suggests that permanent bone loss from spaceflight is about the same as a decade of age-related bone loss on earth, he adds.

The effects of weightlessness and bone loss may, however, vary from one astronaut to another. So says Dr. Steven Boyd, director of the McCaig Institute for Bone and Joint Health and professor at the Cumming School of Medicine.

There is a wide variety of reactions among astronauts when they return to earth, he said, citing the example of astronauts who found it difficult to walk due to weakness and lack of energy. #x27;balance after their return from a space flight, and that of their colleagues being able to cycle to the center of Houston for a study visit.

Former chancellor and University of Calgary astronaut Robert Thirsk testifies about this. Fatigue, dizziness and imbalance were my first challenges when I returned to earth. Bones and muscles take the longest to recover after spaceflight, he notes. But one day, after landing, I felt comfortable again as an earthling.

The study also reveals that some astronauts , who flew missions of less than six months, regained the strength and density of their lower body bones, unlike those who spent longer in space.

The next iteration of the study also plans to look at long-duration and longer-range space missions, in order to further highlight the effects of these on bone loss.

The study was funded by the Canadian Space Agency, in partnership with the European Space Agency, NASA and astronauts from North America, United States and #x27;Europe and Asia.

With information from The Canadian Press

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