Ruptured Disks in Space

Amber Blake

For astronauts, being in outer space means adapting everyday tasks to a weightless environment. Once they return to earth, astronauts may find that they not only struggle to perform these same tasks, but they also face an increased risk of back pain and injury.

“Astronauts have a significant problem with disabling low back pain in space, and a high risk of disk herniation when they return to Earth,” explained Britta Berg-Johansen, a PhD candidate at the University of California (UC) Berkeley-UC San Francisco (SF) graduate program in bioengineering, at the annual meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS). “This is not only a dilemma for crew safety, but also for NASA’s plans for future long-duration space travel,” she said.

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