Space medicine, specifically, is the practice of medicine on astronauts. However, in the postings on OEM we will also be including astronautical hygiene, which is the application of science and technology to prevent and control hazardous exposures that can negatively impact the health of astronauts while in space. While most of us will not ever encounter some of the specific conditions that are unique to space medicine, it is fascinating to understand the physiologic challenges that occur when our bodies are no longer exposed to gravity. Astronauts deal with many issues including changes in vision due to acquired ocular deformities, radiation exposure, fluid redistribution, muscle wasting and more. There has been an extraordinary amount of research devoted to understanding the physiologic changes that occur in space and ways in which to prevent them.
As the commercial space flight industry grows, these issues will become more pertinent to the emergency medicine community. Also, as the suborbital flight industry grows we may potentially see sicker patients taking to the skies and have to build an understanding on how these environments will impact patients with already stressed cardiovascular and cardiopulmonary systems.