by Miriam A. Knoll, M.D.
The growing interest in space tourism has led to speculation regarding medical risk. Astronauts undergo comprehensive medical examinations prior to their space journeys to insure they are healthy. But, the question remains, is it safe for just anyone to travel to space? The lead author of the New England Journal of Medicine article, Dr. Jan Stepanek, MD, MPH, serves as Chair of the Aerospace Medicine Program at Mayo Clinic in Arizona. He stated: "The health risks and human adaptations for space travel is well documented for healthy individuals (astronauts) for orbital sojourns of varying duration. The brief suborbital commercial flights that are in development for the broad public are expected to be safe for healthy individuals. Participants with chronic medical conditions of varying nature and severity are the group that will require close collaboration between the space medicine specialists and the participants’ primary healthcare provider to define what risks may be of importance and what risk threshold might preclude participation."
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Context: Jan Stepanek, M.D., M.P.H. is a Mayo Clinic aerospace medicine specialist. Dr. Stepanek and his team study the effects of clinical and significant operational problems in the realm of spatial disorientation while in flight, as well as maintenance of balance, cognitive impairment, especially in hypoxia-induced conditions, and prevention of acceleration-induced blackout. You can read more about the medical research here.
Contact: Jim McVeigh