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Media opportunity: Dalhousie University researchers go underwater to address an otherworldly issue ‑‑ how to treat pain in space

Posted by Communications and Marketing on March 25, 2024 in News

With several crewed space missions being planned for the coming year, it is becoming increasingly important that astronauts can treat potential health issues that could arise and compromise an expedition.

For them, one the greatest challenges is determining how to safely administer analgesia or anesthesia to a crewmember in this unique, microgravity environment.

Dr. Jon Bailey, an assistant professor in Dalhousie University's Department of Anesthesia, Pain Management and Perioperative Medicine, has set out to make surgery and pain management in space a reality.

Dr. Bailey and his colleagues evaluated the feasibility of administering nerve blocks to numb a part of the body in a simulated microgravity environment -- that is, underwater.

They injected dye into 40 blocks of meat in both microgravity simulation (a pool) and normal earth gravity to evaluate the administration of anesthesia.

The team members -- some of whom are certified scuba divers -- found little discrepancy in the two settings and that regional anesthesia is feasible in simulated microgravity.

Dr. Bailey is available to discuss this unprecedented research and how it paves the way for the development of medical techniques that will ensure the safety of astronauts and possibly others working in remote locations, like military and rescue operations.

Photos and video available here.


Media contact:

Alison Auld
Senior Research Reporter
Communications, Marketing and Creative Services
Dalhousie University  
Cell: 1-902-220-0491  


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