Minor Injuries, Bumps, Bruises & Others
Since astronauts are always floating around in an environment with zero gravity, they are highly likely to bump into surfaces and things, which can leave behind bruises, bumps and other injuries. In the instance an astronaut is suffering from a painful wound, abrasion, or any other kind of injury, they can consult a physician on earth by simply placing a call, and the doctor will advise how to treat the wound or condition.
There are doctors and physicians at NASA for the purpose of answering calls about tiny lacerations, cuts, bruises, bumps and other minor injuries, and their job is to guide the astronaut about the treatment procedure. Bumps and bruises are extremely common amongst new astronauts who are still figuring out their way around the spaceship and the lack of gravity.
The doctors at NASA assist astronauts by walking them through the entire procedure of the treatment, for instance, how to use and operate a modified ultrasound machine aboard the ISS, or providing them extra training to respond to certain medical ailments that might occur on the spaceship.
Such an incident occurred in the case of spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome, an ailment that caused the formation of certain visual and structural alterations within the eyes of the ISS astronauts while they were conducting their space missions. The physicians on earth then trained these astronauts over the phone on how to operate a series of eye tests on their own.
Cases of Evacuation & Surgery
In the instance an astronaut has developed an ailment that is too severe and cannot be treated on board, the astronaut will have to be sent back to Earth on the Soyuz spacecraft, the same spacecraft that brought the astronauts to space. One Soyuz spacecraft is always docked at the ISS to cater to any kind of emergency that might take place.
So far, only one medical evacuation has taken place, back in 1986, when Vladimir Vasyutin, a Soviet astronaut, had to evacuate from the Salyut-7 Orbital Lab due to a severe prostate infection. His journey back to Earth took almost 6 hours, however, in modern times, astronauts can now reach Earth in less than three and a half hours.
In the instance the medical emergency is grave and serious, and requires immediate surgical procedure, being evacuated back to Earth is so far the only way to make sure the affected astronaut gets instant treatment. It has not yet been made possible to carry out a surgical procedure in zero gravity environments, and as the blood would start to float out of the wound and the body, and the entire cabin would be contaminated.
Modern technological innovations have made deep space travel more flexible and feasible, however, scientists still need to develop a space O.R, which is a necessity for those who risk their lives in outer space. Technological advancements in this regard are being developed to make surgeries in space a clean, easy and achievable process.
Currently, scientists are testing the aqueous immersion surgical system (AISS), a testing device that is basically a dome filled with saline, and when it is placed over a wound, it makes sure all the blood and bodily fluids stay in their place instead of flowing out.
Scientists are increasingly making more and more advancements into deep space, and researchers have realised that in the future, medical technology needs to be a lot more sophisticated and innovated. As far as deep space missions are concerned, NASA has specifically identified five potential dangerous of human travelling into space: isolation, space confinement, space radiation, distance from Earth, the lack of gravity fields, and the hostile or closed environments in space that are potentially risky to the human mind and body.
Currently, scientists at NASA are researching the scope of various development projects that will rule out and eliminate these hazards and challenges of human travelling into the deep space, for instance, no-drill dentistry and emergency wound closure, which will be useful for astronauts who have no formal medical or dental education and training.
And since all these hazards and potential ailments don’t necessarily have to be physical, the Mars settlement simulation projects are aiding scientists in obtaining greater insight into the social, emotional, psychological and physical impacts on the astronauts due to being isolated for long periods of time.