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June 6, 2002

Beth Nischik
Johnson Space Center, TX
(281) 483-6992

Release: J02-62

NASA Seeks Space, Remote-Area Telemedicine Improvements

NASA's Johnson Space Center will provide Telemedicine Instrumentation Packages to The University of Texas at El Paso and Beaumont Army Medical Center for projects designed to improve medical care for space travelers as well as residents of remote areas on Earth.

Under a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement to be signed today 6 in El Paso, two Telemedicine Instrumentation Packages (TIPs) will go to the university. One will be tested and analyzed by UTEP’s College of Engineering, which will recommend advanced approaches to the design. The other will be used in one of the Border Clinics of UTEP’s College of Health Sciences for real-world application.

A similar agreement will be signed at the same ceremony with Beaumont Army Medical Center at El Paso. It will use a TIP under field conditions.

A TIP was tested in space aboard Endeavour on STS-89 in January 1998. It was used to provide basic physical examinations for crewmembers and then transmit information to physicians on the ground. Data included blood pressure readings and ECGs.

Under Space Act Agreements, a company or other entity and NASA agree to share development costs and results. The idea is to provide the benefits of space-based technology to people on Earth through cooperation with the private sector, the academic world, government organizations or other institutions.

Lee Snapp of Johnson Space Center’s Technology Transfer Division visited two of the Border Clinics. He said he believes the TIPs, valued at almost $36,000, could be a valuable tool for them.

Nurse practitioners run the clinics. They are on the U.S. side of the border. “The clinics serve anyone who walks in,” Snapp said. “They often see patients who have never seen a doctor.”

Part of NASA’s business is supplying technology, he said. “We do have technology that can help serve this population.”

It is, however, mid-90s technology. Through these Space Act Agreements, NASA believes the TIPs design can be improved using recent technological advances. The goal is to develop, in cooperation with UTEP and Beaumont Army Medical Center, a smaller, lighter and better TIP.

Johnson Space Center has an active program to transfer technology designed for space into products to improve life on earth. Space technology in propulsion; structures; energy generation, storage, and transmission; human factors engineering; aerospace medicine; sensors; communications; computers; and materials are transferred from the government to the private sector.

For additional information, visit NASA’s Technology Transfer website at: http://technology.jsc.nasa.gov/.

 

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