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Scientists say humans feel less pain in outer space

August 10, 13:40 UTC+3 MOSCOW
An experiment called algometry, or pain measurement, is currently under way at the International Space Station
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© Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

MOSCOW, August 10. /TASS/. The euphoria over a space flight and the state of being engrossed in work can increase the pain threshold of cosmonauts working in orbit, Russian scientists have discovered.

"A cosmonaut who has long prepared for and finally flown to an orbital station experiences euphoria that subsequently elevates his mood and his pain threshold is correspondingly heightened due to the emotional component. Further on, the pain threshold is influenced by the process of adaptation to zero gravity. If a cosmonaut adapts well, the threshold normalizes closer to earthly indicators," researcher at the Institute of Medical and Biological Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences Ilya Rukavishnikov told TASS.

An experiment called algometry, or pain measurement, is currently under way at the International Space Station. According to the scientist, the idea of holding such an experiment arose after cosmonauts noticed that they did not feel pain from minor injuries, if they hit an object on the orbiter.

Moreover, they said they felt pain quite differently during blood sample tests.

"Give the link, a decision was made to carry out a series of experiments to substantiate and lay the basis for assessing pain sensitivity and tactile feelings under space flight conditions," the scientist said.

Two measurement methods were chosen: the first, exerting wide stock (rod) pressure on a finger and the second, heating a plate and applying it to a forearm. Both methods have a programmed restriction that prevents them from injuring a person undergoing an experiment, the scientist said.

The experiment was launched in the spring of last year and has been in progress ever since. It is expected to last another couple of years.

"Overall, about 10-15 crew members are expected to take part in it so that we can obtain reliable statistics," the researcher said, adding that a series of similar tests were carried out with cosmonauts before and during a flight and also upon their return to the Earth," he said.

Research into the human’s pain sensitivity in outer space will help scientists and doctors determine the proper method of pain relief, if necessary, during an orbital flight, Rukavishnikov said.

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