Mal de Debarquement syndrome (MdDS) is a rare and disabling movement disorder characterized by continuous feelings of rocking, swaying or bobbing, dizziness and unsteadiness long after the person has finished boating, surfing or a sea voyage.
MdDS occurs more frequently in women than men.
Patients experience fatigue, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, poor coordination, anxiety and depression. These symptoms may last from months to years often affecting the person’s ability to work and lead a normal life.
MdDS is different to motion sickness, as the latter occurs when the central nervous system receives conflicting messages from the eyes, muscles and joints, skin and pressure receptors, and the inner ear. Some people experience nausea or vomiting when travelling in a boat, car, amusement park ride or aircraft.
Those who suffer from this rare illness, now have a chance for full recovery thanks to treatment developed by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York.
Until now, there has been no effective treatment for MdDS, the cause of which has been unclear. However, very recent research suggests MdDS is caused by malfunction of the vestibulo-ocular reflex (VOR), a mechanism in the inner ear that maintains balance and stabilizes the eyes during rapid head movements.
This new treatment re-adapts the VOR by moving the visual surroundings as the person’s head is slowly rolled from side to side at the same frequency as the subject’s symptomatic rocking, swaying or bobbing.