Motion sickness could be stopped with electric zap from mobile phone

7 Sep 2015

Those who suffer from motion sickness could soon be saved with a quick electric shock from their mobile phone, thanks to a treatment currently in development.

While arguably not as crucial or urgent to cure as some fatal conditions, motion sickness affects millions of people across the world. New research into its cause, and a potential cure, could be just years away.

Those who suffer from the relatively unresearched condition will find that most forms of travel are pretty unpleasant experiences, resulting in varying degrees of nausea, sweating and dizziness, among other symptoms.

Researchers may know the symptoms, but the cause, and the cure, has remained out of their grasp.

A team from Imperial College London carried out a study to investigate the condition, and members of the team say it could all be solved with a mild electrical current.

Publishing their findings in Neurology, the team says that with the introduction of a mild shock to the patient’s scalp, the area of the brain that is responsible for motion is dampened, creating a ‘reset button’ of sorts for any ill effects.

Possible within five to 10 years

Those taking part in the study wore a set of electrodes on their heads while they sat in a motion chair for 10 minutes and, after the shocks were applied, those taking part said they were less likely to feel motion sickness symptoms.

The lead researcher on the study, Dr Qadeer Arshad, said of the findings: “We are confident that within five to ten years people will be able to walk into the chemist and buy an anti-seasickness device. It may be something like a TENS machine that is used for back pain.”

Dr Arshad even goes on to suggest the technology could be shrunk to a size where it could fit into a person’s phone: “We hope it might even integrate with a mobile phone, which would be able to deliver the small amount of electricity required via the headphone jack. In either case, you would temporarily attach small electrodes to your scalp before travelling – on a cross channel ferry, for example.”

This is entirely likely, given that Dr Arshad and his team have already begun talking to industry partners about developing a prototype device for the consumer market.

Woman experiencing motion sickness image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic