Scientists from Imperial College London are currently working on a new treatment for motion sickness that uses brain stimulation to quell the feelings of nausea. They’re hoping to use their findings to develop a portable device which you’ll be able to collect from your pharmacy, or even access the treatment through your smartphone.
The treatment, which delivers a mild electrical current to the brain, can reduce symptoms in as little as ten minutes and, so far, appears to have no obvious side effects. In fact, it’s proved so successful that the lead researcher, Dr. Quadeer Arshad believes that you’ll be able to buy the device within the next 5-10 years.
While most of us have probably experienced some sort of motion sickness in our lives, around 3 in 10 people suffer severe symptoms such as extreme nausea, vomiting, cold sweats and dizziness. Although there are several treatments available, most have drowsiness as a side effect. The trigger for motion sickness still remains a mystery, although scientists believe it has something to do with the brain attempting to process conflicting signals sent from our eyes and ears to our brain.
Previous research has suggested that the part of the inner ear that senses movement plays a key role; therefore the team wanted to find out what happens to motion sickness symptoms when the signals sent from this area to the brain are dampened by applying a direct current through the scalp to the region of the brain that is responsible for processing them. The test was carried out on 10 men and 10 women, half of which were given this stimulation for a period of 10 minutes, before being placed in a revolving chair in order to bring on symptoms of motion sickness. The trial was double blind with participants being assigned to each group on a random basis. The results showed that the people who received the treatment had less incidences of nausea and were able to recover quicker.
The team are very excited about the potential of this treatment as an alternative to current medications, and are already discussing the development of the device with potential partners.
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