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Shuttle-Mir Stories - Pool on Medical Differences

During Shuttle-Mir, Dr. Sam Pool was Assistant Director, Space Medicine, at Johnson Space Center. In his Oral History, he talks about the differences between the American and Russian approaches to taking care of the health care of astronauts and cosmonauts.

Dr. Pool says that, generally, "the American system ... follows the military model in that we provide health care ... {during] pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight. We also organize emergency medical services that may be required. We provide medical certifications for selection as an astronaut and each space mission to which they are assigned..."

On the other hand, according to Pool, "The Russians ... have really developed separate and almost autonomous systems... [Some people} are involved in training the cosmonauts and preparing them for a mission, and a different group of people are responsible during the mission. At the time of recovery of the spacecraft, representatives of both groups are frequently there to assist....

"We found, in working with [the Russians], that they didn't have ... a single physician - a flight surgeon - who had worked the entire process ... from pre-flight training, to in-flight operations, to post-flight rehabilitation. They didn't have anyone who had that sort of experience, because their efforts were more focused and limited. So that is a fairly big difference in the two systems."

Related Links:
Sam Pool Oral History (PDF)
Flight Docs

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