DLR puts study participants to bed for two months

Lying to bed for science soon means that twelve healthy men are taking part in a long-term study in space research. During the two months in which the subjects do not leave their bed at DLR, the effects of weightlessness in space are simulated. Half of the test subjects are kept fit with a special jump training.

DLR research institute envihab: From 9 September, twelve healthy men between the ages of 20 and 45 will spend two months in bed there.

DLR research institute envihab: From 9 September, twelve healthy men between the ages of 20 and 45 will spend two months in bed there.

Photo: DLR

For the next few weeks, the research facility envihab of the German Aerospace Center (DLR) is the home of twelve healthy men between the ages of 20 and 45 years. The Twelve are subjects of a long-term bed rest study and will be in bed 24/7 for two months. This will break down the bones and muscles of the lower half of the body.

At the same time, your bed will tilt down to the head by six degrees so that its body fluids shift toward the upper body. “That’s how we simulate the effects weightlessness in space on the human body, “says Edwin Mulder, head of the study carried out by DLR on behalf of the European Space Agency ESA.

Half of the test subjects are lying on a specially designed training device several times Do a jump training in the week. The scientists want to find out if intensive training can be an effective countermeasure against bone and muscle breakdown.

Astronauts on the ISS need to exercise more than two hours daily

Currently, astronauts must Doing sports on the International Space Station (ISS) for over two hours a day to minimize the negative effects of her workplace on her body. Among other things, the DLR study will investigate whether other exercises could not be better suited as a countermeasure. The subjects of the training group will train five to six times a week, especially with small, powerful jumps. “A short, crisp workout with a strong muscular stimulus – something that has not been seen in space before,” says Mulder.

The bed is tilted 6 ° down to the head be, so that body fluids of the subject move in the direction of the upper body. This simulates the effects of weightlessness in space on the human body.

The bed will tilt down to the head by 6 ° to allow subjects’ body fluids to shift towards the upper body. This simulates the effects of weightlessness in space on the human body.

Source: DLR

In total, the scientists involved carry out around 90 experiments. In addition to the effects of inactivity on bones and muscles, they examine changes in the cardiovascular system, the sense of balance, the eyes, the thermoregulation or the autonomic nervous system. The subjects are therefore regularly examined and measured.

Always one shoulder on the mattress

Two subjects are currently entering the DLR research facility envihab each day. After collecting her values ​​before the bed rest follows from September 9, 2015, the lying phase. During this phase, none of the subjects may get up, always a shoulder must remain on the mattress. This rule must be followed in everything from eating to showering.

A regular day-night rhythm and a strictly controlled diet are also prescribed. Temperature and humidity are uniformly regulated in the research module with twelve single rooms. Visiting is not allowed, but contact via mobile phone and the Internet to the outside world is possible.

After bed rest, not only are all subjects again examined and measured for two weeks, but also cared for with rehabilitation measures , “The bone and muscle breakdown will be completely compensated again,” explains Ulrich Limper, who accompanies the study as medical director. After their stay at envihab, the subjects will participate in five follow-up examinations over the next two years. “So far we know that bone resorption is fully reversible again, but it takes longer to reach its original state – and we want to better understand this mechanism.”

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