Computerized dynamic posturography and seasickness susceptibility

Shahal B, Nachum Z, Spitzer O, Ben-David J, Duchman H, Podoshin L, Shupak A

Motion Sickness and Human Performance Laboratory, Israel Naval Medical Institute, IDF Medical Corps, Haifa.

OBJECTIVE/HYPOTHESIS: The neural mismatch theory emphasizes the role of conflicting multimodal sensory interactions in producing both motion sickness and the rearrangement process that finally leads to habituation to the adverse motion conditions. If this theory is, indeed, correct, the patterns of the response to the integrated signal from simultaneous multisensory stimulation, characterized by unusual relationships between the senses responsible for spatial orientation, should differ according to motion sickness susceptibility. Computerized dynamic posturography (CDP) provides the opportunity to simultaneously change the interactions between visual, somatosensory, and vestibular inputs, thus giving an indication of the relative importance of these senses in maintaining balance. The objective was to investigate balance strategies in naval crew members with differing susceptibility to sea conditions using CDP. STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional, parallel-group design. METHODS: Twenty subjects susceptible to seasickness (SS) and 20 nonsusceptible subjects (NSS), healthy male volunteers aged 18 to 25, were tested using the EquiTest system (NeuroCom, Inc., Clackamas, OR). RESULTS: The SS group exhibited significantly less stability than the NSS group in condition 5 of the sensory organization test (SOT). The ratio of the SOT scores of conditions 5 to 1 (the vestibular organization pattern) was also found to be significantly lower in the SS group. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that SS might be more dependent on somatosensory and visual inputs and less on vestibular inputs for maintenance of balance compared with NSS. Higher susceptibility to seasickness might reflect abnormal weighting of sensory modalities during the integration process. This would result in disruption of the integration process required to maintain balance and a sense of orientation in space in conditions producing conflicting sensory inputs.