NASA Astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, based on the International Space Station (ISS), kindly took time out of her busy schedule to give her thoughts on the annual World Extreme Medicine Conference… https://youtu.be/4_O4qTVlDyk
But medicine in Space is unsurprisingly tricky and incredibly basic. Medical procedures which are taken very much for granted on a generously endowed gravity secure Earth are very much more complicated in zero-G. WEM Faculty and senior NASA Flight Surgeon Dr Michael Barrett stated in a interview for BBC Future whilst speaking at the World Extreme Medicine Conference ‘‘we can stabilise someone who has a dramatic injury but we can’t sustain a patient for long’ Source BBC.
Whats the issue? Part of it is simply space and resources as Mike highlights ‘“But we’re not yet at that point where we have a large enough crew or are far enough away to have a dedicated medical officer” and the other issue is payload and storage space on the International Space Station (ISS https://www.facebook.com/ISS/). If you where to compare the equipment capability on the ISS then your looking at modern-day paramedic would carry travelling ‘lite’ in fact being taken ill in your local shopping mall might provide you with better support.
Whats the future? Clearly as commercial space travel becomes a reality, as astronauts venture to Mars and space colonies are planned for the Moon develop is going to be both swift and lightweight. Innovation might well be the key. Dr Scott Parazynski, former NASA Astronaut and flight surgeon, the only person to have been both in the International Space Station and on the summit of Everest, will be presenting on just this at the 2018 WEM Conference in Edinburgh.
Mike Barrett however is views the future positively that one of his successors will get the facilities of a real Dr McCoy.
“A medical sickbay in space will absolutely be a reality in future but you will have to have a certain threshold of crew members, size of spacecraft and level of remoteness before you break that cost-benefit barrier.’,
Join us this year where for the first time in WEM history, we’re hosting a virtual conference (17th & 18th Oct) – so you can be inspired from the comfort of your sofa (or, frankly, from wherever in the world you can get online). Book your place today!