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Space Travel Neurological Disorder: Microgravity Shifts Brain Upward

Image: Space Travel Neurological Disorder: Microgravity Shifts Brain Upward
(NASA)

By    |   Thursday, 02 November 2017 08:18 AM

A space travel neurological disorder has emerged among some astronauts caused by microgravity shifting the brain upward, a new medical study showed.

The New England Journal of Medicine published the study, which suggested that about 40 percent of astronauts return from space with what is called visual impairment and intracranial pressure syndrome, or VIIP, Newsweek magazine reported.

The syndrome affects the top of the brain, which controls sight, leaving astronauts with symptoms of blurry vision, swelled optic disks, migraines and increased head pressure.

The problem likely comes because of the lack of gravity, with allows the brain to float protected in a bath of cerebrospinal fluid while on Earth.

The New England Journal of Medicine study examined 34 astronauts, looking at their brains through an MRI before and after space travel. Brain scans showed virtually no changes in the brains of the short-term travel astronauts, but "some pretty significant changes" in those who traveled to the International Space Station for longer terms.

"If we see these brain changes after a few months on [the space station], what might happen on a mission to Mars?" Donna Roberts, an associate professor at the Medical University of South Carolina, told HealthDay News.

Rachael Seidler, a professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville, told HealthDay News that NASA has been looking into the effects prolonged spaceflight will have on astronaut's movement, thinking and behavior.

Seidler said microgravity tends to push the brain upward, but said that more study will be needed to understand its overall impact and how to prevent it.

"In a sense, the brain is getting a little squished," Seidler told HealthDay. "How long do the [brain] changes last? Are there effects on behavior or physical performance?"

Seidler added that the research could help scientists better understanding cases on Earth, like the impact on the brain of people confined to prolonged bed rest.

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A space travel neurological disorder has emerged among some astronauts caused by microgravity shifting the brain upward, a new medical study showed.
space, travel, neurological, disorder
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2017-18-02
Thursday, 02 November 2017 08:18 AM
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