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Bed rest studies

How does microgravity affect the human body? And how can we counteract the negative effects? On Earth, bed rest studies are used to study the effects of microgravity on the human body in order to investigate reactions, effects and countermeasures. This DLR blog aims to allow the researchers conducting the bed rest studies, others involved in the study and of course the test participants to report on their experiences. Here, they share their impressions and experiences as well as their tasks during a DLR bed rest study.

SANS-CM is a bed rest study that is being conducted in 2021 and 2022 together with NASA. The study investigates negative pressure chambers that enclose the participants from the waist down and 'pull' their bodily fluids into the lower part of the body. In 2019, 12 subjects in the AGBRESA long-term bed rest study lay in bed tilted six degrees towards their heads for a full 60 days. Artificial gravity was tested as a possible measure against bone and muscle atrophy using the DLR short-arm centrifuge. The study was conducted by DLR in Cologne, in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA. Prior to this, DLR's Aerospace Medicine team in Cologne gathered findings from the VaPER bed rest study in 2017. You can find all DLR blog posts on the bed rest studies by searching the keyword 'bed rest study' in the search bar at the top.

Posts from Bed-rest-study

Space | 15. December 2021

SANS-CM bed rest study: Detecting space eye disease while lying down

Living in space puts an enormous strain on the body. Among other things, astronauts are exposed to space radiation and experience their muscles deteriorate and body fluids shift towards the head. To protect against the radiation, international research is being conducted on protective vests, for example in the MARE mission. Effective training programmes have been developed to combat muscle atrophy, so that today astronauts hardly have any difficulties upon returning to Earth, even after spending months on the International Space Station (ISS). However, the increased pressure in the head due to the changed fluid distribution can lead to permanent problems – especially for the eyes. Time and again, space travellers report a deterioration of their eyesight, with about 70 percent experiencing eye changes, either temporarily during the stay in space or permanently. read more

Space | 08. December 2021

SANS-CM bed rest study: Docking manoeuvres while lying down, guitar concerts and jelly legs

The first campaign of the SANS-CM bed rest study has come to an end and the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine is already preparing for the next one, which will begin in spring 2022. While the test participants spent their last days after their 30-day bed rest at :envihab, the research team has been working on processing the extensive data and continuing the study with new test participants. Before this round's participants packed their bags at the end of November to resume their real lives, we asked them about their experiences. read more

Space | 01. December 2021

SANS-CM bed rest study: Subject D1 looks back on his 30 days in bed

I'm at the entrance to the DLR premises in Cologne. Somehow everything seems a bit surreal. The door of the :envihab is about to close behind me for eight weeks. I feel this strange sensation come over me, coupled with keen curiosity and tension. Although it has taken a long time for the study to get started, it's as though someone has only just asked me if I fancy taking part. And now the moment has arrived: as of today, I am Subject D1 in the new bed rest study at DLR. read more

Space | 25. November 2021

The SANS-CM bed rest study: Lying down for 30 days for space research

What happens to humans in microgravity conditions? How do space conditions affect the human body? How can we prevent adverse effects on long-term spaceflight? Scientists on Earth are also asking themselves these kinds of questions. read more

Space | 02. October 2019

AGBRESA geht in die zweite Runde: Erfahrungsbericht eines Probanden

Die Pause zwischen den beiden AGBRESA-Kampagnen war schnell vorbei. Das Team verbrachte sie mit der Vorbereitung der zweiten Kampagne und begrüßte Anfang September die nächsten Probandinnen und Probanden im :envihab. Auf ein Neues! Mittlerweile haben alle Probandinnen und Probanden ihre Betten bezogen, in denen sie nun 60 Tage am Stück verbringen. Hier ein Bericht von Proband V. read more

Space | 19. June 2019

AGBRESA: Ein Proband berichtet: Am Ende des Horizontalen

Zunächst ist da kein göttergesandtes Licht, kein Bouquet voll nasser Blumen, weder Trommelwirbel noch Fanfaren. Nein, am Ende kommt die große Entkabelung. Stück für Stück entfernt man die Elektroden von meinem Körper, die Blutdruckmanschette, den Sensor um den Zeigefinger. Das letzte horizontale Experiment ist beendet. Es ist Montagmorgen. Noch liege ich. Zwanzig Augen blicken mich an und gratulieren mit dem feuchtblauen Funkel der Begeisterung, der um ihre Pupillen kreist. Am Ende also, jetzt weiß ich es, steht die große Erwartung. read more

Space | 06. June 2019

AGBRESA – A participant's tale: Reaching the finishing line through sheer will power

HDT 47. Forty-seventh day of bedrest. Another 13 days – and what's left of today. Yesterday I spoke with my wife on the phone. She still can't imagine what would possess a person to volunteer for 60 days in bed without even a pillow. “Do you never feel the urge to get up?” she asks. One of the support staff asked me a similar question just recently. With less than two weeks of bedrest left on the schedule it seems an apt time to answer this question. My summary is simple: it was exactly the way I imagined. read more

Space | 29. May 2019

AGBRESA: Gedanken eines terrestrischen Astronauten

Ich sah zum Fenster und wusste, dass etwas anders war.... Dieser Blogbeitrag stammt von unserem Probanden E, einem Teilnehmer der laufenden AGBRESA-Studie, der in seinem irdischen Leben Schriftsteller ist. read more

Space | 28. May 2019

AGBRESA – terrestrial astronauts’ experiences of training on the centrifuge

The AGBRESA study is the first to explore using the DLR short-arm human centrifuge as a possible mitigation for the negative effects of weightlessness, which are being simulated by bed rest. This involves eight of the 12 terrestrial astronauts – the AGBRESA bedrest study participants – spinning in the centrifuge for 30 minutes every day. To allow them to experience artificial gravity they adopt a specific position – supine with heads pointed inwards – which exposes their feet to two g (twice Earth gravity) and the centre of gravity of their bodies to one g (Earth gravity). This could become a training method for future long-term missions in space. By the end of their 60 days of bed rest, the participants will have spent 1800 minutes on the centrifuge and will have rotated 54,000 times! read more

Space | 30. April 2019

AGBRESA – a terrestrial astronaut's diary

Today is 29 April. I was last outdoors enjoying the fresh air and my last rays of sunshine on 29 March. This means that I have now been here for a month, including 17 days of lying down. So, as of today, the first third of the study is behind me and I will soon have completed one third of the lying down phase! Although all of us here are looking forward to the end of our bed-rest, I am already sure that we will all miss this adventure and will never forget it. read more