Electric Device Zaps May Prevent Motion Sickness
By Dennis Thompson
FRIDAY, Sept. 4, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Motion sickness is a miserable experience, with sufferers having nausea, dizziness and cold sweats from the rocking of a boat, the swaying of a car or the swooping of a roller coaster.
Now imagine a device that could prevent those symptoms and allow you to enjoy your sailing excursion or day at the amusement park.
British researchers say such a device may soon be at hand. They have shown that a mild electrical current applied to the scalp can fend off these symptoms, according to findings published online Sept. 4 in the journal Neurology.
The electrical current interrupts confusing signals from the inner ear that lead to motion sickness. And the researchers say tests involving a small group of people showed promise in preventing nausea.
Such a current could be supplied by a small device or even the headphone jack of a mobile phone, the researchers suggest. They predict this cure for motion sickness will be on the market within a decade.
“We are confident that within five to 10 years people will be able to walk into the [drug store] and buy an anti-seasickness device,” said lead author Qadeer Arshad, an honorary research associate studying motion and balance at Imperial College London.
Motion sickness is a common complaint that can affect anyone. But about three in 10 people experience significant symptoms on long bus trips, on ships or in small aircraft, according to background notes.
The cause of motion sickness remains a mystery, but researchers suspect it occurs when what we see with our eyes or feel in our bodies is unable to line up perfectly with the balance messages that our brains receive from our inner ears.
So researchers decided to see if they could prevent motion sickness by interrupting the conflicting signals sent from the inner ear.
“We thought that this may be highly effective, and it proved to be the case,” Arshad said.
In the study, 20 volunteers wore electrodes on their heads for about 10 minutes. They were then placed in a motorized chair that rotates and tilts, to simulate the motions that tend to make people sick on boats or roller coasters.