Mars500: Scientific protocols
Medical Skill Maintenance During Long Duration Spaceflight
Medical support of crew members under extreme environmental conditions (e.g. weightlessness), which significantly alters human physiology over time and with limited or lacking access to medical expertise is a major challenge of long term space missions. This is even more poignant for a human mission to Mars lasting around 500 days where telemedical support will not be possible during major parts of the flight, and even when available, would involve a large delay up to 20 minutes.
Taking this into account crew members medical skills should reach and be maintained on a sufficient level during a long duration space flight. It is therefore important to provide the crew with an adequate medical training to deal with the special conditions and changes, the limited resources and the medical inexpertness of the majority of the crew. Training should protect the crew if possible from a severe loss of knowledge during the mission.
This protocol is built up on the experience of simulation and telemedical support in a former German-Russian cooperative project “Telemedical Emergency Management on Board the International Space Station” (TEMOS) and on practical experience of providing emergency and scheduled medical support in remote environments of the Canadian Arctic. At the beginning of the Mars500-project, all six crewmembers will receive an initial medical emergency training in Advanced Life Support. This will make use of the Human Patient Simulator, which is a computer-model driven, full- sized mannequin. It can blink, speak and breathe, has a heartbeat and a palpable pulse, and accurately mirrors human responses to such procedures as CPR, intravenous medication, intubation and ventilation.
The simulator uses an array of programmed systems such as cardiovascular, pulmonary, pharmacological, metabolic and neurological. Any patient profile can be created or modified from pre-configured profiles to offer a specific set of parameters, such as an astronaut after one week in weightlessness. The crew will be trained in the most likely and most severe life threatening conditions, like myocardial infarction, burns and hypovolemic shock. The crew should be able to manage these emergency scenarios after the training.
An assessment will be made of retention of theoretical and manual skills and evaluation of appropriate countermeasures against the loss of medical knowledge at different times during the isolation period. The crew will be divided into two groups. Only one group will obtain refresher courses at regular intervals (every 60 days). These courses consist of narrated lectures, instruction films, paper-based manuals and digital teaching material.
The respective standard of knowledge will be assessed via digital questionnaires and simulated emergency situations. The crew’s actions will be videotaped during the handling of these situations. The performance will then be evaluated concerning success or failure of certain procedures and the required time. The results of each crewmember will then be transformed into a numeric score.
Science Team W Mann (DE) et al.
Last update: 23 March 2010