|Team Overview |
Astronauts experiencing weightlessness often suffer from disorientation, motion sickness and a loss of sense of direction because their bodies try to adapt to the conditions of microgravity. Back on Earth, they must readjust to gravity and can experience problems standing up, stabilizing their gaze, walking and turning.
Importantly, sensorimotor disturbances after gravity transitions are more profound as the duration of microgravity exposure increases. Such changes can impact operational activities including approach and landing, docking, remote manipulation, extravehicular activity and post-landing normal and emergency egress. The result could be compromised crew safety and mission success.
The Sensorimotor Adaptation Team is developing pre-flight and in-flight training countermeasures, so that astronauts can adjust more rapidly to weightlessness, to other gravitational environments and upon return to Earth.
The studies will provide basic knowledge relating to dizziness and balance problems affecting more than 90 million Americans, particularly the elderly. Forty percent of nursing home admissions are due to injuries caused by falls. Falling is the leading cause of accidental death for persons over age 75.
Charles M. Oman, Ph.D.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology
Associate Team Leader:
Ajitkumar P. Mulavara, Ph.D.
Universities Space Research Association