Hope is on the horizon. A team from the Imperial College in London believes it has found a breakthrough.
With all the advances in modern medicine, it is hard to imagine that society has not come up with a way to cure the age-old curse of motion sickness. Whether it is in a car, a boat or a plane, there is little one can do to prevent seasickness. The best hope is to take a drug like scopolamine, which eliminates the symptoms by putting a person in a state of drowsiness bordering on catatonic.
Now, hope is on the horizon. A team from the Imperial College in London believes it has found a breakthrough. Dr. Qadeer Arshad noticed that people with inner ear damage do not suffer motion sickness. This seemed to confirm the theory that motion sickness is caused by differing messages coming from the ears and eyes. The brain becomes confused and thus headaches and nausea ensue.
Dr. Arshad decided to find out what happens when the messages coming from the balance organs in the ears were manipulated. His strategy was to shock the brain with mild electronic currents.
The researchers had 20 volunteers sit in the ‘chunder chair’- a device that can make nearly anyone physically ill. All of the participants had an initial go, most getting sick within five minutes.
An hour later, half of the group was had mild electronic currents passed through their scalp to alter their brain activity. The other half were given a false treatment.
The second time on the chunder chair, those given the shocks could go on average 207 seconds longer without getting sick. The control group felt nauseous 57 seconds sooner. This is due to the fact that after one bout of motion sickness, a person is more vulnerable to a second. Those with the electronic stimulation were also shown to have faster recovery times.
“The best comparison is with the best known drug scopolamine – we showed in essence that it’s equivalent to scopolamine, but that drug knocks you out, it puts you to sleep,” said Dr Arshad.
There are no known side effect to such treatment and develop meant could be easy and cheap.
“Within the next couple of years people will be able to use these devices – it’s not far away,” said Dr. Arshad. “You can envisage on a cross-Channel ferry, having a small area where if you feel sick this could be applied by a trained person.”
Yet Professor Chris Chambers, the head of brain stimulation at Cardiff University, urges caution: “Until the findings are replicated in a large registered trial, I recommend that the public approach any claims about treatment benefits with a healthy skepticism.”