People who suffer from a rare illness called Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS), now have a chance for full recovery thanks to treatment developed by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Their findings were published online on July 15, 2014 Frontiers in Neurology. People often feel a sensation of movement, called Mal de Debarquement, after they have finished boating, surfing, or a sea voyage. The symptoms usually disappear within hours, but in some people, and more frequently in women, symptoms can continue for months or years, causing fatigue, insomnia, headaches, poor coordination, anxiety, depression, and an inability to work. Known as the Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS), the rare condition is marked by continuous feelings of swaying, rocking, or bobbing. "Our study has provided the first effective treatment for this troublesome disorder, and we hope it provides relief to the thousands of people who may be affected worldwide," said Bernard Cohen, M.D., the Morris Bender Professor of Neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Until now, there has been no effective treatment for MdDS. Diagnostic tests and early research done at Mount Sinai suggested that MdDS was caused by malfunctioning of the vestibule-ocular reflex (VOR), a mechanism in the inner ear that maintains balance and stabilizes the eyes during head movements, said Dr. Cohen. The new treatment re-adapts the VOR by moving the visual surroundings as the head is slowly rolled from side to side at the same frequency as the subject's symptomatic rocking, swaying or bobbing. In the study, the head roll caused vertical eye movements (nystagmus), and subjects tended to turn to one side when marching in place. Subjects were rocked or swayed at about one cycle per five seconds.
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