Aeromedicine or as otherwise called, space medicine, studies the effects of space travel – both physiological and psychological – on the human body. As Dr. Gregory Brammer learned decades ago, the medically important elements include a combination of temperature, lack of oxygen, air sickness and of course the effects of the gravitational force that can be very taxing for the human body.
Space Medicine Today
The science behind aeromedicine still relies heavily on a relatively controlled environment without the transfer of medical technology. The truth is that the current medical capabilities do not make it possible to rely on diagnostic and surgical tools and machines while in orbit. The limiting factors are real and they are here to stay. Until medical and technological improvements are made, aeromedicine will remain a mostly theoretical field.
The future is often brighter, and that is almost certainly the case with space medicine. With time, the complete medical support of planetary missions could be possible. There are surgical robots in advanced stages, including one being developed by Virtual Incision, a startup company that was founded a decade ago. They have developed a rather small – fist-sized – robot that could potentially do abdominal laparoscopic surgery in space, whenever the need arises. The tech is equipped with a highly efficient camera on the top, along with two arms. As usual, the problem is the very specific environment. In space, even the most basic surgical operations could be challenging because bodily fluids could find their way into the machinery, endangering the shuttle.
Dr. Gregory Brammer hopes that space medicine will improve significantly in the near future, getting to a point where the full medical support of a planetary mission becomes possible.