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Pioneering research by Teesside University academic used by NASA
PIONEERING research carried out at by a North-East university lecturer has been used by NASA.
The US space agency has referenced studies by a Teesside University academic as part of its investigations into how astronauts adapt to unusual sensory conditions, such as the switch between gravity and weightlessness.
Daniel Eaves’ original research focused on whether running on a treadmill in front of different visual images, such as a mirror or a reversed mirror image, influences the physical demands of the exercise.
The senior lecturer in sport and exercise science worked on the treadmill running research with Nicola Hodges, from the University of British Columbia in Canada and Mark Williams from Brunel University.
Mr Eaves was the main author of the study, which was published in 2008 in the highly-regarded journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
While their research findings generated widespread interest at the time, featuring in the national media, NASA's interest is more recent.
The lecturer said: “When astronauts switch from normal to distorted sensory conditions, such as from gravity to weightlessness or vice versa, their metabolic demands rise due to the extra effort involved in getting used to the new conditions.
“Of course, this is a major issue when oxygen is at a premium in space. Therefore, the quicker you can adapt to distorted sensory conditions the better, and NASA investigate this in their paper.”
Mr Eaves' research found higher metabolic, cognitive and movement demands from distorted sensory conditions during treadmill running, compared to running in front of a normal mirror image.
“We also showed that running in front of a mirror in the gym can be less effortful than seeing a static image of yourself, which may be helpful for new exercisers, or not so helpful for those wanting to train harder,” he added.
Mr Eaves said: “I was pleasantly surprised that NASA picked up on our work and it is particularly fitting as Saltburn-born NASA astronaut Dr Nicholas Patrick has an honorary Doctor of Science award from Teesside University.”
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