Astronauts appear to hold their heads more rigidly in relation to their trunks after returning to Earth from multi-month spaceflights, which may affect how they balance themselves back on Earth, according to research.
Historically, in competitions you always want to be the last man standing. At NASA, optimal functional performance, such as standing, is taken even more seriously.
Walking an obstacle course on Earth is relatively easy. Walking an obstacle course on Earth after being in space for six months is not quite as simple. The longer an astronaut spends in space, the more difficult it is for their brain to readapt to gravity.
Why can’t astronauts walk after landing on earth?
Astronauts returning to Earth after living aboard the International Space Station for that amount of time have exhibited balance control problems, muscle weakness and cardiovascular deconditioning.
When astronauts return to Earth from working on the International Space Station in a weightless environment for an extended period, it takes time for their bodies to readjust to an environment with gravity.
Even standing upright can be a challenge, but it is crucial for their job performance as NASA looks at longer missions in the future and landing humans on Mars.
Astronauts and cosmonauts that live in space for six months to a year experience physical changes that have noticeable effects once they return to Earth’s gravity, including changes to vision, balance, coordination, blood pressure, and the ability to walk, which impact their ability to perform basic tasks.