Patient simulator will enhance training for medical emergencies in space

January 17, 2003

HOUSTON - (Jan. 17, 2003) - A lifelike mannequin will be teaching astronauts, flight surgeons and other mission personnel how to effectively manage medical emergencies in space.

"This patient simulator is no dummy. It breathes, has a heartbeat, pupils that react to light and medications, a pulse that can be felt at five locations, and lung sounds," said Dr. Hal Doerr, head of the Medical Operational Support Team, a joint project of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), NASA Johnson Space Center and its support contractor, Wyle Laboratories. "About 200 parameters can be changed, so we can create any type of patient and then simulate medical events that could happen."

As mission lengths grow, the possibilities for medical problems in space increase. To expand the training of crew medical officers, NASA tasked the NSBRI with designing realistic training scenarios for astronauts and ground personnel involved in mission operations.

"This simulator will give us an extremely realistic setting to validate and integrate medical procedures and medical equipment," said Dr. Jim Logan, MOST project administrator from NASA's Medical Informatics and Health Care Systems Office. "The project also links the medical and operations sides of a mission. In the event of a medical emergency, all parts of the mission team - crew, flight surgeons, biomedical engineers and flight operations - need to be ready to react at a moment's notice."

The patient simulator is linked to a sophisticated computer, designed along the lines of a flight simulator, that controls the 'patient's' reactions and can be programmed to mimic various situations that could occur.

For a session on allergic reactions to medications, participants will face a wheezing simulator with a rapid pulse and swollen tongue. In some scenarios, the simulator will be programmed to talk.

Doerr's group is ensuring that the simulated patient represents a potential astronaut by gathering data on the current astronaut pool. Physiologic changes that occur in space as a mission progresses also are programmed into the computer, so that realistic space scenarios can be created.

"We're developing programmed scenarios for possible emergencies, such as crush trauma, inhalation burn, allergic reactions, decompression sickness, eye injury, respiratory distress, or myocardial infarction," said Doerr, director of the Houston Center for Advanced Patient Simulation at Baylor College of Medicine. "Each scenario looks at how the injury or illness can be treated with the equipment on board and for how long."

NSBRI researchers, who study the health problems associated with long-term space flight, will participate in planning for the different medical contingencies. Once the scenarios are complete, Doerr says training will be most effective if it occurs in a room that mimics the size, look and sounds of areas available for medical care on the International Space Station.

"When teaching, you must be able to make the participants suspend disbelief. It is hard to think clearly in a medical emergency. We're trying to create enough stress to make it realistic, so that they will fail," he said. "Once they see how difficult it can be, we explain why they failed, work through the problems and do it until they succeed."

Doerr, who trains anesthesiology residents and firefighters on simulators, says this type of training will give astronauts the tools to work through an emergency medical situation more effectively.

"The practice sessions teach critical thinking and critical communications. They learn how to communicate clearly to ground crews and each other during medical emergencies," Doerr said. "Crews will be prepared to provide the best in-flight medical care possible."
The NSBRI, funded by NASA, is a consortium of institutions studying the health risks related to long-duration space flight. The Institute's 97 research and education projects take place at 75 institutions in 22 states involving 269 investigators.

National Space Biomedical Research Institute

Related Allergic Reactions Articles from Brightsurf:

Nearly one in five parents of food-allergic children are bullied
A new study being presented at this year's virtual American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting shows that nearly one in five parents of food-allergic kids are the target of bullying by a multitude of sources.

Cooked carrots can trigger allergic reactions
The consumption of raw carrots triggers allergic reactions in many people.

New active ingredient against allergic asthma
Our immune system protects us against pathogens. However, an excessive immune reaction can trigger allergies or chronic asthma.

Electron microscopy allows scientists to understand the molecular trigger of allergic reactions
For the first time, researchers from the Department of Engineering and the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at Aarhus University have described the structure of an IgE antibody responsible for allergic reactions.

'Molecular missing link' may explain allergic reactions to personal care products
Investigators have uncovered a new molecular mechanism by which common components of consumer products can trigger an immune response, highlighting a specific molecular connection that may explain the mystery behind these cases of ACD.

Children allergic to cow's milk smaller and lighter
Children allergic to cow's milk are smaller and weigh less, according to the first published study to characterize growth trajectories from early childhood to adolescence in children with persistent food allergies.

Think you're allergic to penicillin? You are probably wrong
More than 30 million people in the United States wrongly believe they are allergic to penicillin.

Severe allergic reactions identified with peripherally inserted central catheters
Peripherally inserted central catheters (PICCs) that use a magnetized tip to guide insertion were associated with serious allergic reactions in patients, according to a study published today in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the journal for the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

Scientists discover immune cell subtype in mice that drives allergic reactions
Allergies can be life-threatening when they cause anaphylaxis, an extreme reaction with constriction of the airways and a sudden drop in blood pressure.

Australian bee sting vaccine trial holds promise against allergic reactions
Most people have probably been stung by a bee and while it can be painful, it's especially dangerous for those at risk of suffering a life threatening allergic reaction.

Read More: Allergic Reactions News and Allergic Reactions Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to