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Space medicine offers some unique challenges, especially in terms of research methodology. A specific challenge for astronaut reconditioning involves identification of what aspects of terrestrial research methodology hold and which require modification. This paper reviews this area and presents appropriate solutions where possible. It is concluded that spaceflight rehabilitation research should remain question/problem driven and is broadly similar to the terrestrial equivalent on small populations, such as rare diseases and various sports. Astronauts and Medical Operations personnel should be involved at all levels to ensure feasibility of research protocols. There is room for creative and hybrid methodology but careful systematic observation is likely to be more achievable and fruitful than complex trial based comparisons. Multi-space agency collaboration will be critical to pool data from small groups of astronauts with the accepted use of standardised outcome measures across all agencies. Systematic reviews will be an essential component. Most limitations relate to the inherent small sample size available for human spaceflight research. Early adoption of a co-operative model for spaceflight rehabilitation research is therefore advised.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.msksp.2016.12.007

Type

Journal article

Journal

Musculoskeletal science & practice

Publication Date

01/2017

Volume

27 Suppl 1

Pages

S42 - S46

Addresses

Surgical Interventional Trials Unit (SITU), Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, University of Oxford, United Kingdom. Electronic address: david.beard@ndorms.ox.ac.uk.