March 21, 2005

Motivated women wantedWise study

Imagine spending 60 days tilted with your head below your feet ... The MEDES* space clinic has selected 24 women to do just that for an international bedrest campaign to simulate conditions encountered during a space mission. Twelve of them have been lying (almost) flat since 19 March at the clinic in Toulouse, where the study gets underway today.
21 March 2005

Space agency seeks motivated young women …

"We are seeking motivated, healthy women volunteers aged between 25 and 40, speaking fluent French or English, for a clinical study to simulate the effects of spaceflight."

This small ad sent out by MEDES to European media sought to recruit 24 volunteers for a long-duration –6° bedrest experiment called WISE**, coordinated by CNES, ESA, NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), with a view to preparing astronauts for long-duration spaceflights.
Living in microgravity conditions brings about physiological changes, particularly in the cardiovascular system, muscles, bones, blood, immune and hormone systems. Astronauts also have to cope with the psychological effects of living in a confined area.
As opportunities to live in space are rare, ground simulations serve to reveal how the human body adapts to weightlessness, and to develop countermeasures.

And this time, the bedrest study is focusing on women, since male volunteers have already been through 2 campaigns, in 2001 and 2002. More than 1,600 women answered MEDES’ call. Twelve of them—from the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom—kicked off the new campaign today. The 12 other volunteers will take part in the 2nd campaign from September to December.

Drastic constraints

Participants will therefore remain lying in a bed tilted down at an angle of 6° for 60 days. They will not be allowed to get up at any time, even for meals or to wash. The consent form states that volunteers must stay in the anti-orthostatic bedrest position. They may turn over or change position to lie on their stomach, back or side.

There will be two women per bedroom, with two television sets. The volunteers also have to stick to a strict diet. No cigarettes, alcohol, coffee or tea. Even visitors are banned during their stay in the clinic, with relatives only allowed to phone. The women will also be under constant videosurveillance and must follow a schedule of scientific activities and medical checkups, keeping to set sleep and leisure times.
Whether inspired by a love of science, a taste for trying something new or intense curiosity, the volunteers will find this campaign a particularly tough test …

* MEDES: space medicine and physiology institute
** WISE: Women International Space Simulation for Exploration

Related links

For targets: