Patients could be spun in machine to prevent muscle loss, scientists say

Patients could one day be spun around in a machine which simulates the effects of gravity to prevent muscle wastage during long hospital stays, scientists say.

A new study will explore what happens when volunteers, subjected to 60 days of bed rest, spend 30 minutes per day strapped to a human centrifuge.

The research will be carried out by two UK universities and could also help astronauts who are sent on long missions.

Professor Hans Degens, who is leading the work at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “Artificial gravity could help astronauts to maintain muscle mass in space and help back here on Earth too by preventing severe muscle degeneration in hospitalised patients.

“Currently astronauts have to exercise for up to 2.5 hours every day, take nutrient supplements, and keep high protein diets to maintain muscle mass while they are in space. Despite this, severe muscle deterioration still occurs.

“One day, astronauts might have a daily quick spin in a centrifuge on the ISS rather than spend hours on gym equipment in space.

“For hospital patients, it could greatly improve their recovery during rehabilitation and after they leave.”

We will need to embrace new technology like this to meet the needs of our ageing society

A total of 12 healthy men and 12 healthy women are expected to take part in the research.

The volunteers will be subjected to 60 days of bed rest, mimicking the effects of microgravity space conditions.

Some of the group will spend 30 minutes every day lying flat in the human centrifuge as it spins.

Researchers will carry out a series of tests and examine muscle degeneration, as well as ways to prevent lower back pain.

The UK's Science Minister Chris Skidmore said: “This pioneering research hopes to lessen the impact on future space flights, something which will be particularly important if we ever send humans on the long journey to Mars.

“It has benefits on Earth too, helping the thousands of patients who develop muscle weakness from lengthy stays in a hospital bed.

“We will need to embrace new technology like this to meet the needs of our ageing society.”

The research is backed by the UK Space Agency and £500,000 (€570,000) has been awarded to Northumbria University and Manchester Metropolitan University to carry out the project.

The first of two tests is already underway, with the second due to begin in September.

- Press Association

More on this topic

Thomas hopes crash will not derail defence of Tour de France title

Why Doug and Monique Howlett are moving back home to New Zealand

Netflix announces two more seasons of Queer Eye

Tuesday's Evening Round-up: Ana Kriegel verdict; Tory leadership race; Tipp's Bonner blow

More in this Section

Italian woman who was Europe’s oldest person dies aged 116

Facebook ‘turned down’ AI tool to stop hate speech

Nasa captures closest image yet of Bennu asteroid

Trouble in the Gulf: What happened before and after the oil tanker attacks?


Pauline McLynn shines in creative homecoming for Enda Walsh's The Small Things

Skin Nerd: The pros and cons of moisturisers and serums

Double act: Why talking to your baby is essential

Ask a counsellor: ‘My mother’s become so high maintenance since moving closer – what should I do?’

More From The Irish Examiner