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Possible New Solution by Ignoring the Vestibular System

This past year my company, Otolith Sound, developed a wearable that allows the user to ignore their vestibular system. Originally we developed the technology to prevent motion sickness, which it has been extremely effective at. However, after seeing the results, researchers at Johns Hopkins suggested we try our technology on more serious vestibular conditions and recommended this forum.

The best way to describe how our technology works is to start with an analogy. If you’re unable to sleep because someone is talking in another room, you can turn a fan on. The noise from the fan is louder than the talking but because it’s constant and there’s no information your brain tunes it out. Our technology works by overstimulating the vestibular system with ‘white noise’ until the brain ignores it and uses other sensory information for spatial awareness.

Our wearable consists of a headset that holds an infrasonic surface transducer to the mastoid. This transducer then vibrates the vestibular system. Users notice an immediate loss of their vestibulo-ocular reflex and may experience a floating sensation as they move around. However, the body adapts immediately to the loss of vestibular information and users are able to work, read, walk around etc. There is a constant vibration and low frequency hum the user experiences but test subjects have reported these are not distracting when they focused on reading or having a conversation. Once the device is removed or turned off, full vestibular function returns within a few minutes. Up until now, there have been no reported side effects.

When used by motion sickness sufferers, 100% of test subjects had the symptoms of motion sickness delayed by a factor of two (50% had their symptoms eliminated entirely). So far, car sickness is the only condition we’ve tested for. We do not yet know if this will be beneficial for vestibular migraines, vertigo, etc. If anyone suffering from a vestibular condition would like to try this technology we’d love to get in contact with you (particularly if you’re in the Washington DC region). You can reach us through our contact page on www.otolithsound.com

I have a question. If the patient "notices "
complete loss of their Vestibular-ocular reflex, would the patient then not experience Oscillopsia?

Yes, Oscillopsia is exactly what the user experiences. Those we’ve tested on experience unsteady vision but found within just a moment, the body adapts and the user is still capable of reading normal text, work on a computer, etc. Obviously, we don’t want anyone driving or working with heavy machinery when using our device. But once the device is turned off, the Oscillopsia goes away almost immediately and full vestibular function is restored within a minute or two.

Contacted you :slight_smile:

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I see this is an old post but am interested to know if anyone has tried using this device and if so your experiences with it. I’ve googled it but haven’t been able to find much so maybe it went nowhere. Years ago I read that applying a vibrator to the mastoid bone was an easy diagnostic test in the doctor’s office. I don’t remember what disease it would show you to have should you get vertigo but I do know at the time it wasn’t something I wanted to try as I would surely get vertigo. Seems to me a device that vibrates the vestibular system can’t be too much fun.

Walk around without vestibular information?! … :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

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We have continued to develop this technology. Anecdotally, several vertigo sufferers have tried our device and almost all have said they experienced immediate relief. The only exceptions were those with sound sensitivity and vibrational sensitivity. Sound sensitivity hasn’t been an issue for a while as our latest device is very quiet.

We’ve completed one clinical trial for motion sickness which we expect will be published in Frontiers Journal of Neurology in the next few months. There are two more clinical trials starting this Spring at U of Maryland (prevention of nausea with caloric testing) and U of Miami (speeding recovery of vestibular neuritis). We expect to have a Q-Sub with the FDA this Spring which will give us a good timeline of when we’ll finally be able to start selling the devices.

We’re still trying to figure out why our technology works. It appears there is no loss of vestibulo-ocular reflex when we use our technology with caloric testing. So contrary to what we thought was occuring two years ago, there is no loss of vestibular function (at least in reflex function that bypass the brain). We believe now that it’s informational masking which occurs where the vestibular signal is processed in the brain, this would explain why our technology is effective at preventing motion sickness when spatial discordance occurs but doesn’t cause a loss of balance when measuring postural sway.

Can we get in on these tests if we live outside Maryland and/Miami? Would we need a certain level of proven vestibular dysfunction?

These tests will be done by researchers completely independent from my company and we’re leaving it to them to determine how to recruit subjects. The caloric testing will be done on healthy patients initially, the hope is it will show there’s no change in the results of the test with our device and it can be done without inducing nausea. The vestibular neuritis test will be done on those with acute vestibular neuritis with the hope that it’ll show accelerated recovery either by providing immediate relief of the vertigo or at least reduce the nausea associated with physical therapy which speeds recovery (compliance currently being a major issue).

With that said, we’re hoping to get these devices in the hands of several ENTs to do beta testing to find the limits of our technology’s effectiveness. There are about 20 so far who have asked to test with them and if you know an ENT that’d be interested in it we could probably arrange to get them a device by this summer.

Could we get them in the hands of neurologists or vestibular rehabilitation therapists? A lot of us go thru the ENT (who as a group don’t seem to know much at all about VM/MAV) on our way to the neurologist. That said, I’d be happy to march (stagger, depending on the day and the amount of visual noise I encountered on the way in) on in to my ENT, neurologist, audiologist or vestibular rehab therapist’s offices and ask them.

I’m sure a lot of the MAV folks here find their stomachs turn over at the phrase ‘caloric testing’ because we’ve learned the hard way just how horrible that feels. But I bet a lot of us would brave it out to try something non-invasive that might help. There are a lot of expensive gadgets out there for us to try. Some help. I really do hope yours is successful.

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We’re always looking to help and early feedback from people like you would be great. Please email info@otolithlabs.com so we can connect. I can promise anything immediate but as we get through FDA there will be opportunities.