(WFRV)--When Astronaut Scott Kelly blasts into space in 2015, he will be a living, breathing medical experiment, helping researchers figure out the physical and psychological impact of living on the International Space Station for one full year.
What they discover could help future astronauts survive a two-year round trip to mars. But in the meantime, there is other out-of-this-world work that is helping patients with common health problems.
An ingestible pill thermometer has been developed for astronauts. Now that same ingestible pill thermometer is helping make sure athletes, troops and firefighters do not die from heat exhaustion.
A new heart pump inspired by rocket engines keeps patients waiting for heart transplants alive. Even purified water systems designed for the space shuttle are making their way into our dentist's office and there is more to come from the final frontier.
Orthopedic Surgeon Doctor Douglas Chang works with astronauts.
"About 85 percent have significant back pain," says Dr. Douglas Chang an Orthopedic Surgeon at the University of California.
In zero gravity, they grow an average of two inches when the curvature of their spines straightens out.
"They have an increased incidence of disc herniations," explains Dr. Chang.
Doctor Chang is researching why discs may be getting weaker in space. Figuring out why could help keep discs down here from hurting.
Astronauts could also be key in helping stop the effects of osteoporosis. Studies show they lose two percent of their bone mass for every month spent in zero gravity. Researchers are working on ways to stop the progression in space, which could stop the progression on earth.
A small sample of the space-inspired breakthroughs improving lives now and possibly in the future.
Can fruit flies in space improve our heart health? Researchers are sending the insects that share many of the same genetic and molecular mechanisms as humans to the international space station later this year.
They will study how space travel impacts the cardiovascular system. The work could help prevent or treat heart problems in space and on earth.