Understanding Mal de Débarquement Syndrome

Mal de Débarquement Syndrome (MdDS) or Disembark­ment Syndrome is a rare disorder that most often develops following an ocean cruise. Less often, the perceived sensation of motion follows prolonged air or auto travel. More common in women than men, the symptoms of MdDS include a persistent sensation of motion (rocking/swaying/bobbing/tumbling) that is usually associated with fatigue, imbalance, and difficulty concentrating (impaired cognition). Some patients develop MdDS after extended boat or train travel, or other motion experience, or even spontaneously, i.e., they lack an identifiable motion event. The intensity of symptoms is highly variable among patients but may be quite disabling. Symptoms are often reduced when in passive motion such as in a moving car, airplane, or train. After remission, the recurrence rate of MdDS is high and symptoms usually more severe. Unfortunately, MdDS may persist for years, is frequently misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, lacks an effective treatment, and the cause remains unknown.

The MdDS Balance Disorder Foundation is an all‐volunteer 501(c)(3) organization that seeks to promote awareness of, find a cure for, and assist patients suffering with MdDS. Our efforts are focused on informing health care professionals, patients, and the general public about MdDS and supporting clinical research on MdDS prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The Foundation has supported MdDS research studies at UCLA and LIBR by Yoon‐Hee Cha, MD; a neurologist, Dr. Cha also receives MdDS research funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Her innovative neuroimaging investigations have identified specific locations in the brain that are affected by MdDS. The Foundation also supports a research study by Brian C. Clark, PhD, Director of the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute (OMNI) at Ohio University. Dr. Clark has defined increased intracortical excitability in MdDS patients. Hopefully, the combined results of these independent investigations will help to form the basis for a rational and effective MdDS therapy in the future.

In addition to this website, the Foundation produces an informative brochure (PDF) and occasional Newsletter. Past issues are archived in the Library, and you can automatically receive Newsletters as they are published. We also sponsor two free, online support groups for those with MdDS.

We hope that this information will prove useful to you in understanding MdDS.

You may also be interested in: Similar Conditions from the MdDS UK website.