TABLE 3–2 Medical Events Among Seven NASA Astronauts on Mir, March 14, 1995, through June 12, 1998

Event

Number of Events

Incidence/100 Days

Musculoskeletal

7

0.74

Skin

6

0.63

Nasal congestion, irritation

4

0.42

Bruise

2

0.21

Eyes

2

0.21

Gastrointestinal

2

0.21

Psychiatric

2

0.21

Hemorrhoids

1

0.11

Headaches

1

0.11

Sleep disorders

1

0.11

NOTE: Data from the Russian Space Agency reports that there were 304 in-flight medical events onboard the Mir from February 7, 1987, through February 28, 1998. The numbers of astronauts at risk or the incidence per 100 days was not reported.

SOURCE: Marshburn, 2000b.

Tansey and colleagues (1979) reviewed health data from 885 Polaris submarine patrols from 1963 to 1973, for 4,410,000 person-days of submarine activity. They described 1,685 medical events that resulted in 6,460 duty days lost. Only events that resulted in the loss of at least 1 workday were reported. The events with the six highest rates of occurrence were, in descending order, trauma, gastrointestinal disease, respiratory infections, dermal disorders, infection, and genitourinary disorders. The spectrum of disorders was very broad and included cases of arrhythmia, paroxysmal superventricular tachycardia, infectious hepatitis, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, meningococcemia, paranoid schizophrenia, appendicitis, pilonidal abscess, perirectal abscess, ureteral calculi, testicular torsion, and crush injuries, further emphasizing that the scope of anticipated medical conditions on long-duration space missions will be very broad (Tansey et al., 1979).

The incidence of the types of illnesses observed during extended submarine missions is generally similar to the incidence encountered during spaceflights. NASA has used the incidence of medical events on submarines to estimate that there may be one major medical event requiring intervention of the type usually delivered by a medical practitioner during a future exploration-class mission of 3 years in length with five to seven astronauts (Billica, 2000; Flynn and Holland, 2000). Unfortunately, the nature of that



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement