Cruise Ship Vertigo

Have you heard of post cruise ship Vertigo? Ever had the feeling and motion you were still on a cruise ship out in the sea? Or a feeling of vertigo, disequilibrium, imbalance or even ‘brain fog’? 

Well the medical term for the cruise ship vertigo is Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MDDS). This “sickness of disembarkment” is a prolonged sensation of movement following exposure, such as a long sea voyage. It is quite distinct to motion vertigo like car sickness, since the exposure to the stimulus is not current and often duration of the symptoms are much longer. Interestingly, there appears to be no predilection for gender or age. Furthermore, individuals who experience other forms of motion sickness are neither preferred as well. 


What is the cause? 

A common characteristic of persons with MDDS is that their balance system is very good at adapting to ‘sea legs’, but very slow at returning. There are currently a few possible theories surrounding the neurological bases of this balance disorder. All theories surround a mismatch with appropriate sensory and balance information. As a result, this distorts the internal models generated by the brain. 


What can be done? 

There appears to not be a great deal of success with most therapies. However, if the goal is to modify the internal model of balance control then active vestibular exercise for recover should be suggested. In fact teaching the nervous system appropriate and accurate sensory contexts is important. This can be achieved with gaze stabilisation exercises, weight bearing aerobic activity or even walking within a controlled environment. 

At Brainstorm we assist with the reorganisation of the internal motor models of the brain through various therapeutic procedures.


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