0We have discussed motion sickness to death here on Sailnet. I'll bet you think you've mined everything there is to know about it. So did I, until I recently attended a talk by Dr. Patricia S. Cowings
, of NASA as she discussed her research and the practical application of Autogenic Feedback to address motion sickness. No drugs, no side effects!
Dr. Pat, as her friends call her, has worked for NASA her entire career (joined due to interest in Star Trek). A true pioneer, she was NASA's first female astronaut. She got involved at just the right time when NASA was broadening its job descriptions for astronauts because of all the tasks to be performed on the Space Transporation System (i.e. the Space Shuttles). She was the backup for Sally Ride. She has won a pot full of awards over the years.
Dr. Pat is only the latest of a long line of researchers in biofeedback, but I suspect she's the first person to move it out of the lab and design a practical use for it. She designed AFTE (Autogenic Feedback Training Exercises), a training program that addresses space sickness effectively. I was particularly interested since it works for every variation of motion sickness including the infamous Mal de Mer we boaters suffer with from time to time. You can see a 5 minute form (excerpted from a 50 minute talk) of her talk here:
What surprised me most was her study comparing the AFTE to drug treatment and a control group who took placebos. AFTE was much more effective both immediately and long term. And apparently it is like riding a bike -- once learned, never forgotten. AFTE skills may become rusty through disuse but they quickly come back with practice. Those trained can also use it to reduce or increase blood pressure too -- if you suffer from fainting or hypertension, wouldn't it be a great thing to know?
Sadly AFTE is not widely available and, being NASA training, is quite expensive. However, if you can pay she offers it to anyone (apparently offering it is a government requirement for taxpayer-funded training). Alas! Wouldn't you just love to spend a week in her lab? I think it would be worth the suffering!