Effects of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation on motion sickness induced by rotary chair: a crossover study.

Author: Chu H, Li MH, Juan SH, Chiou WY.
Institute of Aerospace and Undersea Medicine, School of Medicine, National Defense Medical Center, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC. hrchu@ndmctsgh.edu.tw
Conference/Journal: J Altern Complement Med.
Date published: 2012 May
Other: Volume ID: 18 , Issue ID: 5 , Pages: 494-500 , Word Count: 302

Motion sickness (MS) is evoked by the conflict among somatosensory, visual, and vestibular input. Some of the MS symptoms and signs are mediated by activation of the autonomic nervous system (ANS). Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), a maneuver used for pain control, was found to influence cardiovascular responses through ANS reflex, and to enhance motor function, visuospatial abilities, postural control, and cognitive function. The purpose of the present study is to investigate the effects of TENS on MS.
Fifteen (15) healthy young men participated in a within-subjects crossover study. Each completed four test sessions (control, rotation, TENS, TENS+rotation) in randomized order. Rotary chair (120°/s) combined with pitch movement of the subject's head was used as a model to provoke MS. Whole rotation protocol consisted of 5 1-minute rotations, each separated by a 1-minute rest period. TENS protocol involved simultaneous electrical stimulation of posterior neck and Zusanli acupoint.
Motion sickness susceptibility was rated on a standardized questionnaire (Motion Sickness Susceptibility Questionnaire). Motion sickness symptoms, blood pressure (BP), skin temperature, heart rate (HR), and heart rate variability (HRV) were measured. Saliva samples were collected to analyze the level of stress markers. Cognitive function was evaluated with d2 test prior to and after MS provocation.
Spinning by itself significantly decreased task response speed and contraction. MS symptom scores, BP, as well as the sympathetic parameter of HRV increased progressively with MS provocation (p<0.05), but skin temperature decreased (p=0.023). Severity of MS symptoms significantly decreased with TENS intervention (p<0.05). After TENS treatment, subjects were able to concentrate better and showed fewer errors in a cognitive test. Salivary cortisol concentration significant decreased after TENS treatment.
Sympathetic activity increased but parasympathetic activity decreased during MS. TENS was effective in reducing MS symptoms as well as alleviating cognitive impairment.
PMID: 22537562