J Am Acad Audiol
DOI: 10.1055/s-0042-1757769
Case Report

Treatment of Mal de Debarquement Syndrome in an Audiology-Vestibular Clinic

Mike Hojnacki
1   Spectrum Health Balance Center, Grand Rapids, Michigan
› Author Affiliations


Background Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS) has a stereotypical presentation of symptoms including continuous rocking/swaying sensations described as feeling like one is “still on the boat,” following travel, especially on water vessels. MdDS is even more notorious for the duration of symptoms that can persist months or years, and historically this condition has escaped effective treatments.

Purpose This case study presents a case of classic MdDS that was effectively treated in an Audiology-Vestibular clinic. Treatment consisted of three, relatively short-lived vestibular rehabilitation sessions using the “Roll Readaptation” technique that has previously been reported in Neurology journals.

Study Sample The study sample includes a 48-year-old female with a history of MdDS following two separate ocean cruises. She underwent vestibular evaluation and was treated with a treatment paradigm aimed to readapt the central vestibular system and vestibular-ocular reflex.

Results This report focuses on a brief review of current symptomology and diagnostic criteria of MdDS, underlying pathophysiology and application of a relatively new treatment technique in an audiology clinic. This patient was shown full-field, omni-directional optokinetic (OPK) stimulus while rolling her head rhythmically for up to 4 minutes at a time. After three treatment sessions, the patient had a significant reduction in subjective symptoms and returned to full-time work. She had previously been off work for nearly 3 months.

Conclusion Individuals with MdDS suffer large daily and work life disruptions due to the persistent nature of symptoms, and their physical manifestations. In addition, they have historically had minimal treatment options. This case demonstrates that audiologists with proper equipment may have the potential to readily offer treatment for a previously “untreatable” condition.

Publication History

Received: 24 September 2020

Accepted: 12 March 2021

Article published online:
02 November 2022

© 2022. American Academy of Audiology. This article is published by Thieme.

Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc.
333 Seventh Avenue, 18th Floor, New York, NY 10001, USA

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