How science, space travel may help families living with neurological conditions

AUSTIN (KXAN) – The Hydrocephalus Association hosted the 17th National Conference on Hydrocephalus, a buildup of fluid in the brain, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The conference linked how the things astronauts experience in space could help people back home living with neurological conditions.

“We’ve learned with astronauts on long-duration space flight that they have developed a disorder that also looks as though it’s causing the spinal fluid pressure to be increased,” Dr. Michael A. Williams, the director of Adult and Transitional Hydrocephalus and CSF disorders at UW Medicine, said.

Hydrocephalus could happen to anyone at any time due to a brain injury, tumor, infection or for unknown reasons as part of the aging process, according to a release.

According to a release, one in every 770 babies will develop hydrocephalus.

Dr. Michael Barratt, a NASA astronaut specializing in aerospace medicine, and Dr. John “Jay” Wellons, a pediatric neurosurgeon and neuroscientist, were the keynote speakers at the conference.

During his speech Saturday, Barratt discussed health issues associated with space travel, particularly Space Flight-Associated Neuroocular Syndrome (SANS) and how research on SANS and other conditions has the potential to help people living with hydrocephalus.

Dell Children’s Medical Center was the presenting sponsor of the conference.

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