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Adaptability Training System Helps Space Travelers Return

The Adaptability Training System is a new system to help astronauts return to earth in better condition. The device was created by Researchers from NASA Johnson Space Center Neurosciences Laboratory and National Space Biomedical Research Institute


( Adaptability Training System )

Called an Adaptability Training System, the treadmill has a projection screen in front of it that shows an image of a room or hallway that moves as the user walks. Disturbances are simulated by tilting the treadmill in one direction as the image is tilted in another. “At first, people find it difficult to walk on the treadmill since its movement and images are out of sync. But over time, they learn to walk on it efficiently. We call this concept ‘learning to learn,’” said Bloomberg, who is the associate team leader of NSBRI’s Sensorimotor Adaptation Team and a senior research scientist at NASA.

In addition to maximizing training efficiency, Bloomberg is looking at how long the benefit of the adaptability training lasts. Once subjects master the treadmill, they come back periodically for testing to see how well they perform. He is investigating if subjects can retain the training for up to six months, which would allow the training to take place before a long space mission.

Another goal of the researchers is to integrate a version of the system into the treadmill on a spacecraft, allowing astronauts to perform adaptability training on long missions. Integration would save space and power, both precious commodities on a spacecraft.

Science fiction fans have had their imagination excercised by writers like Murray Leinster, who wrote about a gravity-simulator harness in his 1953 novel Space Tug:

"When we got back," Joe told Brown, "we were practically invalids. No exercise up here. This time we've brought some harness to wear. We've some for you, too..."

Joe got out the gravity-simulator harnesses. He showed Brent how they worked. Brown hadn't official instructions to order their use, but Joe put one on himself, set for full Earth-gravity simulation.

He couldn't imitate actual gravity, of course. Only the effect of gravity on one's muscles. There were springs and elastic webbing pulling one's shoulders and feet together, so that it was as much effort to stand extended—with one's legs straight out—as to stand upright on Earth. Joe felt better with a pull on his body. (Read more about Leinster's gravity-simulator harness )

From NSBRI press release via MedGadget.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/17/2009)

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