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11 Oct, 2007 02:23

Scientists share secrets of space medicine

Scientists working on the Soviet space programme made several medical breakthroughs that are only now benefiting ordinary Russians. For years the medical procedures were state secrets.

The hidden science has been revealed – something which would have seemed incredible 30 years ago, during the Soviet era.

Russian specialists in space medicine introduced their inventions at an exhibition. Almost all of the devices are completely unique, with no equivalents elsewhere in the world.

Vladimir Zhdanov, a rare cases specialist, presented a device which reads the percentage of oxygen and other gases a patient breathes during an operation. “As the oxygen level runs low, it starts to sound. No anaesthesia apparatus in other countries is equipped with this. Yet it suits any of them,” Mr Zhdanov explained.

Another unique technology is a space-suit that help people who are suffering from hemiplegia, which is paralysis of one side of the body. These plates imitate the muscular system. They put the disabled parts of body into the correct position, making the muscles contract in the proper way.

Not all the equipment on show at the exhibition is intended for professional use. Some pieces could be used for relaxation in the home.

Several foreign healthcare companies are interested in the medical developments that came about during the space programme. But as exhibition organiser, Dr. Evgeniy Ilyin, explained, they're reluctant to pay the true worth of the technology.

“We have got many offers, but they are unfavourable for us, as the foreigners are trying to buy our know-how and our ability on the cheap. So we refuse, it's more profitable for us to introduce the equipment to Russian hospitals and follow the results,” Dr Ilyin said.

And that's just what's happened. Since they were made available a couple of years ago, more than twenty health centres in Russia have started using the respiratory systems and space-suits.