Researchers Develop Treatment for Rare Motion Sickness Disorder


Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have developed a new treatment for those suffering from the Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS).

The researchers said that people often feel a sensation of movement, Mal de Debarquement, after boating, surfing or a sea voyage. The symptoms usually disappear within hours, but in some people (mostly women) it continues for a longer period of time causing fatigue, insomnia, headaches, poor coordination, anxiety, depression and an inability to work.

The MdD Syndrome is marked by recurrent feelings of swaying, rocking or bobbing. The rare illness is caused by malfunctioning of the vestibule-ocular reflex (VOR). Until now, there has been no effective treatment for the Syndrome.  

The new treatment re-positions the VOR by moving the visual surroundings, while the head slowly rolls from side to side at the same frequency as the person's symptomatic rocking, swaying or bobbing. The head roll caused vertical eye movements (nystagmus) and the subjects were more likely to turn to one side when marching in place.

For the study, the researchers rocked or swayed 24 participants at about one cycle per five seconds. They found that the movements and associated symptoms disappeared after three to five treatments a day for one week. Nearly 70 percent reported either a complete or a substantial recovery after one year of treatment. Only six showed transient improvement, while one did not respond to treatment.

"Our study has provided the first effective treatment for this troublesome disorder, and we hope it provides relief to the thousands of people who may be affected worldwide,"

"The work of our team also opens up a new area of research on how the Vestibulo-Ocular Reflex can produce head and body oscillations, and may eventually provide insight into other brain diseases that cause repetitive shaking and tremor of the head and body," said Bernard Cohen, the Morris Bender Professor of Neurology, said in a statement.

The findings are published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology. 

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