Through Lucie Fraissé
Testing the effects of weightlessness on the human body: this is the subject of a study currently directed at Medes, the space clinic, in Toulouse. A study based on the principle of dry immersion during which women remain immersed for several days in a bathtub.
A study on behalf of the European Space Agency
This study is founded by Medes on behalf of European Space Agency. From September until mid-December, 20 women each spent five days in dry immersion in order to recreate some of the effects of spaceflight on the human body.
Claire Burgain is one of the guinea pigs in this study. November 22, the young woman of 39 years old pushed open the doors of the space clinic. She will spend eleven days there.
Battery of tests and exams
“The first few days, I had a battery of various examinations and tests: eye checks, MRI, blood tests… We could not leave the clinic, but we still had to take 8,000 steps per day. We were provided with a pedometer and we took walks in the corridors of the clinic. It happened relatively quickly in the end, the ambiance is good, a bit like in a summer camp! “
It was this Saturday, at 10:16 am precisely, that Claire was immersed in her bathtub, managed in a waterproof fabric to stay dry. Water pressure was then generated on his body to recreate a sensation similar to that experienced by astronauts on the International Space Station.
“Frankly it’s been nice … for 20 seconds. I know not everyone felt the same, but I for one had a feeling of oppression. It’s not like when at all we float in a swimming pool, there we really have the impression of being stuck in a plastic bag. “
Claire will come out of her bathtub on Thursday, after five days of immersion. In the meantime, the exercise is not easy.
“I had severe pain in my stomach and back, that’s one of the side effects of dry immersion. Today is better, but I had difficult nights… I had been warned that it could happen, but I did not expect it to be like this. “
Urine aspirator and head down shower
And inevitably, when you live lying in a bathtub night and day, the slightest little gesture can be complicated. “We are testing a kind ofurine aspirator, we had prepared before being submerged. Let’s say it’s easier to use in a bed than in a bathtub! For the showers you are on a stretcher, your head upside down. You should never put your foot on the ground and be as vertical as possible: it’s quite acrobatic!”
Reading, work and Netflix …
When Toulouse news had met Claire for the first time last October, the young woman knew that the immobilization forced by the experience would be a big challenge.
“In fact, I’m fine. I still have tests to do, I read, I watch Netflix, I work. I also discuss with my roommate, since we are two immersed at the same time. And we exchange a lot with the helpers – caregivers and nurses, who are very present by our side …
The body loses its tone …
Even if she will not be able to really measure until Thursday when she comes out of her bathtub, Claire already has a feeling the changes weightlessness has brought to your body. “I already realize that I have less strength, that my thighs are less firm. But I can’t wait to be until Thursday to measure that concretely, we will have a lot of tests and exams that day. “
In the meantime, despite the pain, the frustration of not being able to step outside and the fact of having to ask for help for the slightest little gesture, Claire does not regret anything in her participation in this scientific experiment. “I’m learning so much about how the human body works, about my own body… It is exciting ! I really feel the “donation of your body to science” side, even if I just lend it. And then we feel useful, it is not a disagreeable sensation. “
Three more days on site
After coming out of the water, Claire will stay another three days at the space clinic for new scientific measures but also to let your body recover from this unprecedented adventure. The data collected thanks to her and the 19 other women who took part in the experiment will allow us to better support future astronauts, but will also be used to better understand the effects of human sedentary lifestyle.
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