Do you feel queasy and sick when you are on a boat? Obviously, you can simply avoid going boating, going on cruises, and looking for whales. But if you still want to be able to enjoy these activities, then an answer may be on the way for you. Scientists at Imperial College London are developing a device that offers a mild electric shock to the scalp to get rid of the feeling of nausea. Believe it or not, their device will plug into a mobile phone and deliver a short shock to the head with electrodes.
They are hoping that the device will be sold to the public in pharmacies within the next five to ten years. As lead researcher Dr. Qadeer Arshad said, “We are confident that within five to 10 years people will be able to walk into the chemist and buy an anti-seasickness device. It may be something like a TENS [transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation] machine that is used for back pain. 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 the study that they’ve done, volunteers wore the electrodes for about ten minutes on their heads. They did so while sitting in a chair that simulates the feeling of the sea.
As Co-author Professor Michael Gresty said, “The problem with treatments for motion sickness is that the effective ones are usually tablets that also make people drowsy. That’s all very well if you are on a short journey or a passenger, but what about if you work on a cruise ship and need to deal with motion sickness whilst continuing to work?
The scientists say that they have gotten a lot of interest from many avenues including the military. As Dr Arshad said, “From other studies we also have evidence that stimulating the brain in this way can enhance attention and concentration. This aspect is of great interest to the military and we imagine that other groups such as students and people who spend long periods playing computer games will also want to try it out.”