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Out of this world message to students from Tim Peake

18th October 2017

Astronaut Tim Peake has sent a message to Sport and Exercise Science students at Northumbria University.

Britain’s first official astronaut personally thanked students for their enthusiasm and hard work via text message during a lecture led by Dr Andrew Winnard - Lecturer in Clinical/Musculoskeletal Biomechanics.

Dr Winnard has this year invited external experts to live tweet during his lectures, as well as encourage students to tweet answers to questions and spark discussion around particular topics. A wall of these tweets is then visible on a screen throughout the session.

This week’s lecture – which was specifically about astronauts and pilots - attracted comment from experts at the RAF Centre of Aviation Medicine as well as Gates McFadden, who played Beverly Crusher in most episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

However, it was words of encouragement to pursue their scientific careers and research, from former International Space Station crewmember Tim Peake, which inspired students the most.

Final-year Sports Science student Harriet Hunter-Purvis said: “The aerospace lecture reminded me how privileged I am as a student at Northumbria.

“My ambition is to become a physiotherapist and having the support of a lecturer such as Andrew, with experience in both physiotherapy and aerospace, makes me strive towards new dimensions of the career.

“The message from Tim Peake was an incredible touch to the lecture and allowed students the confidence to become more engaged, using the Twitter hashtag #HealthExtreme.

“Our tweets slowly became integrated with tweets from professionals in the field, giving students a sense of achievement, belonging and a taste of what the profession could offer.”

Dr Winnard currently leads the Aerospace Medicine Systematic Review Group, which facilitates the pooling of studies done in aerospace medicine under one roof and ensures that results of reviews support guidelines that will feed into major operational decisions.

“It’s really exciting for the students to receive a message from European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Tim Peake,” said Dr Winnard. “He congratulated Northumbria’s students for their scientific endeavours and welcomed the University’s research into human spaceflight healthcare.

“It supports the work we have already done with ESA and international collaborators including astronauts to conduct a systematic review of the effectiveness of exercise to protect the lower spine and pelvis from changes that happen in space.”

Northumbria is working with experts from the University of Plymouth, the Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Royal Air Force (RAF) the International Space University and Blue Abyss – the world’s largest research, training and development pool for marine and aerospace.

The University has previously worked with ESA and international collaborators including astronauts to conduct a systematic review of the effectiveness of exercise to protect the lower spine and pelvis from changes that happen in space.

The review found no current researched exercises are fully effective at preventing these changes so post flight rehab is needed. Northumbria is now developing the 'Functional Re-adaptive Exercise Device', known as FRED, which has been created to combat the back problems astronauts suffer when they return to earth. The device can also be used by those that have developed back pain on Earth.

for more information about the Aerospace Medicine Systematic Review Group visit

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