Here’s What Emergency Medicine Will Look Like for Astronauts in Space

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Even common procedures, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), may require a rethink in space. After all, you can’t use your body weight in microgravity, and there are restrictions on how much medical equipment you can take on board.
After testing CPR techniques aboard aircraft and underwater space simulators, a team led by Jochen Hinkelbein suggests that the “hand-stand technique” is the most effective method for CPR in space. Alternatively, especially in a microgravity environment, wrapping the legs around the patient (called the Evetts-Russomano method) while performing compressions will stop them from floating away.
“Since astronauts are selected carefully, are usually young, and are intensively observed before and during their training, relevant medical problems are, fortunately, rare in space,” said Hinkelbein, executive senior physician of anesthesiology and intensive care at the University Hospital of Cologne in Germany, in a statement.
“However, in the context of future long-term missions, for example to Mars, with durations of several years, the risk for severe medical problems is significantly higher,” added Hinkelbein, who is also president of the German Society for Aerospace Medicine. “Therefore, there is also a substantial risk for a cardiac arrest in space requiring CPR.”
Emergency medicine in space was recently discussed at this year’s Euroanaesthesia congress, which was held in Geneva, Switzerland, from June 3 to June 5.

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