Mamas on Bedrest: NASA will pay $18,000 To Watch You Rest in Bed!

September 30th, 2013

220px-NASA_logo.svg_NASA is currently looking for volunteers to lie in bed for 70 days. That’s right, you could get paid a total of around $18,000 for lying in bed, playing games on your phone, reading books, skyping with your friends and family, taking online classes – and even go on with your day job if you can get away with working remotely, so long as you don’t get out of bed for that entire duration.

This is the headline posted In the September 18, 2013 ForbesWoman online magazine. I almost fell out when I saw the headline. Heck, We could bankrupt the government if I sent all of you over there as participants! So I investigated and got the skinny on the study.

According to the article and Dr. Roni Cromwell, Senior Scientist on the study, the purpose of the study is to research the effects of microgravity (living in space) on the human body.  The study simulates the effects of long-duration spaceflight by having test subjects lie in beds for the 70 day period. The beds are tilted head-down at a six-degree angle. According to Dr Cromwell, “this tilt which causes body fluids to shift to the upper part of the body, sets off cardiovascular events that are similar to what we see in a space flight. And by putting someone in bed for a long time, there is also atrophy of the muscle and atrophy of bone density,” she said. The ultimate goal is to see how best to protect and maintain the health of astronauts while they are in space. Additionally, NASA scientists want to see if they can minimize the negative effects of space travel and then help astronauts return to “life on earth” as quickly and effortlessly as possible.

I find this amazing! There is an actual study looking at the “negative effects” of bed rest and measures to counteract it! Have any of you been offered such counter protective measures? And I know that many of you are on bed rest longer than 70 days! Has anyone been offered any sort of Stipend for their  oh, 20 weeks or so of bedrest??? This is absolutely amazing to me that NASA is going to such lengths to protect the health of their astronauts Wow!! All I can say is Wow!

Interestingly, the subjects NASA is looking for must be very healthy and must go through rigorous screening to make sure that they can endure 70 days of bed rest. Were any of you ladies screened??

According to NASA, “We want to make sure we select people who are mentally ready to spend 70 days in bed. Not everyone is comfortable with that. Not every type of person can tolerate an extended time in bed,” says Dr Cromwell.

No Kidding! Really??

“Once they qualify physically and mentally, we do rigorous physical exercises to test muscle strength and aerobics capacity. We want people who have the physical and psychological characteristics of an astronaut. They should be able to do the kind of activities that astronauts do.”

 But can astronauts do the “rigorous activities that mamas do? Can that program prepare astronauts and other civilians to be ready for the demands of motherhood after a mere 70 days of bed rest?  Hmmmm……

And to make sure that folks stay in bed, the test subjects will be showered and use specially designed facilities. 

Well I am simply floored! While I am excited to see how NASA is training and studying the effects of weightless on astronauts, I am appalled that very little work has been done for pregnant women. Bed rest is prescribed for some 750,000 pregnant American women annually. They are given no pre-treatment, no pre-screening and most certainly no $18,000!  In a country with no paid leave, this would mean the difference between mamas being able to actually rest and calmly gestate their babies and potentially losing their jobs, homes and financial security.

NASA has long looked at the effects of bed rest on the body and reached the conclusion that it is not good for any body to be on prolonged inactivity. Judith Maloni, PhD spent her career studying bed rest and how to improve ways to treat high risk pregnant women as bed rest has been shown to have numerous negative side effects on women’s bodies. And yet, NASA gets funded to evaluate weightless on astronauts over a 15 week period. Women who are out on pregnancy bed rest longer than 12 weeks typically do so without pay and risk losing their jobs.

I am hopeful that once NASA completes its study, it will share the results and the medical community, particularly the obstetrical community. I hope OB’s will take heed and make changes in how pregnant women on bed rest are managed. Let’s pay more attention to bone and muscle loss and try to offset it. Let’ s protect mamas’ hearts by taking into consideration the cardiovascular changes that occur with prolonged bed rest and make appropriate evaluations and precautions. And by all means, if it’s all in the name of science, let’s compensate mamas for their efforts! Seems to me that we ought to do something for those propagating our species right here on old planet earth rather than looking for other species on Mars. Just sayin’…..

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