Researchers Pay People To Stay In Bed

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By Monique Conrod

Getting paid to stay in bed all day sounds pretty good. But what if someone offered you $23,000 to stay in bed for two months? That’s the deal that a medical research team in Toulouse, France, is offering to 24 volunteers.

Researchers at MEDES, the Institute of Space Medicine and Physiology, are looking for volunteers to help them study the effects of weightlessness on the human body by spending 60 days lying down. Lying in bed isn’t exactly the same as being weightless, but the effects on the human body are similar.

When astronauts spend a long time in an environment with no gravity, like the International Space Station, their bodies are affected in many ways. After a couple of months on the ISS, astronauts’ hearts don’t pump as hard. Their muscles become smaller and weaker because they no longer have to work against gravity. Their bones become less dense and may break more easily. There may also be changes in the astronauts’ immune systems and sleep habits.

Dr. Arnaud Beck, the physician in charge of the study, said his goal is to measure the effects of weightlessness, and also to find ways to prevent problems.

The study will take 88 days altogether. During the first two weeks the subjects will be measured and tested to establish their levels of fitness and strength. Then they will spend 60 days lying in bed with their heads slightly lower than their bodies.

They will have to do everything while lying down, including eating, brushing their teeth, and going to the bathroom. Dr. Beck said the rule is that they must have at least one shoulder touching the bed at all times.

Half of the volunteers in the study will be taking capsules containing special food supplements several times a day to see if they help reduce the health problems caused by weightlessness.

The last two weeks of the study will be spent taking more measurements and trying to build up the subjects’ strength again.

Volunteers must be men between the ages of 20 and 45 who are in perfect health and physically active. They must be non-smokers and have no allergies or dietary restrictions.

The researchers completed one study in April. A second study will take place from September to December 2017.

CURRICULUM CONNECTIONS
By Kathleen Tilly

Writing/Discussion Prompt
When I first read the headline for the article, I thought, “Sign me up! Getting paid to stay in bed… amazing!” But then I started to think about it more carefully.

After reading the article, what would be the positive and negative parts of volunteering for this study? After looking at the positive and negatives, would you recommend people take part in the study? Why or why not?

Reading Prompt: Extending Understanding
Two months in bed is a very long time! What could volunteers do during this time? Brainstorm a list of at least 10 activities that they could do while following the rules of the study.

Primary
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge and experience, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Junior
Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Intermediate
Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them (OME, Reading: 1.6).

Language Feature: Effect vs. Affect
This article uses both the words effect and affect. For example:

Lying in bed isn’t exactly the same as being weightless, but the effects on the human body are similar.”

“When astronauts spend a long time in an environment with no gravity, like the International Space Station, their bodies are affected in many ways.”

Most of the time, affect is a verb (an action word) and effect is a noun (a person, place or thing). Is this the case in the sentences above?

Related sites:
Effects of weightlessness on human body

How space flight affects the human body

Fitness and exercise aboard the ISS (with Chris Hadfield)