August 2, 2012 — Prior to advancing its human spaceflight sector, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) addressed the heightened risk of musculoskeletal injuries threatening astronauts, and discussed its concerns during a Spinal Deconditioning Injury Risk Summit.
Among experts invited to the Summit was University of South Florida’s John Mayer, DC, PhD, a supporter of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress (F4CP), who believes chiropractic represents advancement in prevention and protection protocols.
“Deconditioning — the breakdown of the spine’s musculoskeletal support system — is a very common and serious condition occurring in astronauts,” says Mayer, Lincoln College Endowed Chair in Biomechanical and Chiropractic Research, and associate professor, School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences at USF Health. “It is crucial that NASA continues to aggregate data and develop strategies to mitigate this problem. More times than not, this initial breakdown leads to other debilitating health concerns, such as disc herniation — an ailment space crews are five times more at risk for than average individuals.”
During the Summit, a multidisciplinary panel of experts addressed various issues including identifying impacting factors — such as microgravity exposure, flight weight and landing forces — and defining potential protection and prevention options. Going forward, NASA expects to develop and test new measures to counteract spinal deterioration in space crews, based on the panel’s recommendations.
“Possible options to enhance safety measures for astronauts can include everything from developing new equipment to altering spaceflight exercise procedures to new healthcare practices,” says Mayer. “The use of an effective specialized musculoskeletal care, like chiropractic, may ultimately prove to be effective in reducing the incidence of injuries for individuals exposed to a variety of physical demands, such as astronauts.”
Gerry Clum, DC, a spokesperson for the F4CP, notes the inclusion of chiropractic in these discussions as a positive signal from NASA. “With extensive experience in the chiropractic approach to addressing spinal conditions, Dr. Mayer will be an important asset to the NASA panel.”
Source: Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, f4cp.org