At last, a cure for motion sickness is on its way, according to new findings stemming from an Imperial College London study.
It might come as a surprise, but the cure could be mild electroshocks applied to the scalp. While it is still a mystery what exactly causes motion sickness, such as seasickness for instance, there is one assumption that might explain the process.
While we are in motion, whether on a boat, in a car or in a plane, our brain is confused by the signals it receives. Both our ears and our eyes are bombarded with different cues than during conventional motion.
As such, it is easy to get confused and become sick. There are few people who haven’t suffered from motion sickness at least one time in their life. And it is well known that the symptoms are some of the most unpleasant and difficult to suppress. These include nausea, dizziness, confusion or headaches.
In order to better understand the process, the research team at the Imperial College London proposed that the vestibular system is stimulated with tDCS or transcranial direct current stimulation.
The vestibular system is tricky, yet it holds the key to our navigating the surrounding world. Here, the researchers hold, any type of motion sickness both rises and ends. The research was conducted on 20 brave volunteers who, in sessions of approximately 10 minutes received tDCS.
Lead author Doctor Qadeer Arshad and professor with the medicine department of the Imperial College London assured:
“The currents involved are very small, and there is no reason to expect any adverse effects from short term use”.
The 20 volunteers were comfortably installed in a chair that simulated all the motions of a boat, including the tilting and rotating incurred by the waves and so feared by many who would get aboard.
For each volunteer, the research team recorded how long it took him or her to report the symptoms of motion sickness. The same process was followed as self-recovery started to settle in.
And, to complete the experiment, the volunteers went through a second bout of boat-like motion after undergoing another session of electro stimulation.
It resulted that after the second round of tDCS, the brave participants had less symptoms of motion sickness and it took them longer to reach the point where they reported their onset. Moreover, the recovery stage followed much sooner than in the first round of the experiment.
Sure, voluntarily receiving electrostimulation to the scalp might sound a little overreaching. Yet, considering the conventional treatments for motion sickness are based on medication that prompts side effects such as sleepiness, the researchers are convinced this new therapy is a beam of hope.
The study is published in the journal Neurology.
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