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UT Southwestern Doctor's Expertise Helped Trapped Chilean Miners During Pressured Half-Mile-Deep Rescue
Date:10/18/2010

being confined on even a short duration space flight," said Dr. Levine, director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, a collaboration between UT Southwestern and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. "Prolonged confinement in a small space brings similar concerns, whether someone is in space or underground."

Most of his time currently is spent studying the adaptive capacity of the heart including effects of extreme conditions like space flight or high altitude, as well as aging and exercise training on the heart and blood vessels. His protocols used in the Chilean rescue haven't yet been published.

One aspect of the protocols was built on the work of Dr. Donald Seldin, professor of internal medicine and longtime former chairman of the department. Because of Dr. Seldin's work on aldosterone, Dr. Levine's team suggested that the miners take a synthetic form of the hormone to help them retain salt and water.

Protocols also included making sure the capsule was wide enough for the men to cross their legs and having them squeeze their thighs and buttocks together in order to push blood back up to their hearts. The men wore compression stockings and were trained to cough heartily along the way if they got lightheaded, because that could force blood to the brain, a procedure called "cough CPR."

Dr. Levine actually continued with his daily duties during the time of the actual rescue, but he did check the Internet for updates.

"NASA flight surgeons and the other doctors involved did a remarkable job keeping the men healthy under extreme conditions," Dr. Levine said. "I'm just glad I could help their efforts toward a successful rescue."

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SOURCE UT Southwestern Medical Center
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