Many people think that the millions we spend on spaceflight and exploration is a waste that could be spent down here on Earth in better ways.
The night sky may look pretty on a clear night, but the content of space doesn’t really affect our everyday lives. However, it’s worth taking a look at what the NASA space program has actually developed and delivered to our everyday lives.
What’s come as a spin-off from the space program; that little camera in your smartphone uses technology driven to make a tiny camera to fit on spacecraft; CAT scanners used in medicine have been derived from the need to get high quality images in space; we are saving energy due to LED lights – and yep they came from NASA pushing new technology; the insulation in your home keeping you warm this winter has come as a result of NASA needing to insulate things from the extreme cold of space.
There are loads more things too; foil blankets, water purification, the dust buster, memory foam beds, baby formula, scratch resistance lenses, wireless headsets, laptops and even the simple computer mouse.
Another space-derived invention is the trainer. Suit construction technology led to the design of trainers used today, helping to offload impact.
Helping to offload impact is another NASA fuelled technology, and it’s slowly filtering in to clinics and hospitals. It’s an anti-gravity treadmill. Okay so many might think how can you defy gravity without taking a really expensive trip on the comet vomit flight.
Well some clever people have come up with the solution – fit a giant bubble around a treadmill, get someone to wear some shorts which attaches to the hole in the bubble which is zipped up to form an airtight seal around their waist and then fill it with pressurized air. The effect of the air gently lifts someone and can reduce their effective body weight down to a low of 20%.
What’s great is it can help so many people. The obvious ones are those after a lower body or back injury, which means that they can be active really quickly again, without putting so much pressure through their bones, muscles and joints, helping to return to fitness quicker. Those with degenerative joint pain can get back to walking or running without pain, keep up their fitness and health. Many patients with a neurological condition can have the chance to walk again easier as a result of a little less gravity pulling them down.
Those who are overweight can also use it for walking and running; get that motion kick starting the metabolism and burn off that extra Christmas (or perhaps longer) weight, in an environment which doesn’t hurt so much as running outdoors. Take some of the load off by reducing gravity and you can run without putting so much stress on the system. It could even motivate you to see what running outside might feel like if you lost a few pounds.
Sadly these treadmills aren’t cheap, but hopefully it will be another NASA spinoff, which will make it down here on Earth in more clinics in the future.
For more information, visit: www.physiofixx.co.uk