Originally designed by Professor Greenwood in Northern Ireland for research work with astronauts, this piece of equipment is known as a lower-body negative pressure box. Negative pressure is used to simulate the G-forces experienced during lift off. However, it was put to an alternative use at the St Pancras Hospital Geriatric Research Unit, where it was applied to research into the problems related to blood flow experienced when elderly patients stand up suddenly. The patient lies in the box, enclosed at the feet and sealed at the chest. Negative pressure – less than the pressure outside the box – is applied, which changes the rate that blood returns to the heart through the veins.
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Glossary: diseases of old age
Refers to a group of diseases whose appearance is more common in older people and therefore on the increase in societies where individuals are living longer. Examples include arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and osteoporosis. The treatment and care of older people is known as geriatric medicine.
Glossary: lower-body negative pressure box
A device used to apply negative pressure to the lower body (from the chest downwards). Used to simulate the G force experienced by pilots and astronauts.