Motion sickness is a well-known disorder that produces feelings of dizziness, but Mal de Debarqument is a less-known syndrome that can have long-term effects after traveling on boats, trains, and other transportation modes. While many people haven’t heard of Mal de Debarqument, the experience can make it difficult to stay still because of feelings of dizziness, and it might even affect some people’s ability to do their jobs.
What is Mal de Debarquement?
Mal de Debarquement is a syndrome that occurs after a person has been on a ship, train, or other moving object. While it’s very common for people to feel like they’re still moving immediately after disembarking from certain types of transportation, it’s much less common to have these feelings more than a few days after disembarking from the moving object.
People who have Mal de Debarquement experience feelings of movement for a month, several months, or even years after the trip. In fact, the experience can last a lifetime. It might suddenly subside, but the symptoms could also spontaneously reappear.
Many doctors actually believe that Mal de Debarquement originates in the brain rather than the inner ear, but there is some controversy over this topic. In fact, on the whole, there’s very little known about Mal de Debarquement Syndrome, and other possibilities often need to be ruled out before a diagnosis can be made. To rule out other causes, a doctor will often use a series of vestibular function tests.
There’s also no objective way to diagnose MdDS, and subjective reporting from the patient must be used to diagnose the syndrome.
The number of people who have Mal de Debarquement syndrome is extremely small.
Also, the majority of people who experience Mal de Debarquement are middle-age women, but it’s also possible for men to experience Mal de Debarquement Syndrome. People who get migraines might also be slightly more susceptible to MdDS.
Symptoms of Mal de Debarquement Syndrome
Feelings of movement that persist for more than a month after disembarking from a moving vessel is one of the top clinical features of Mal de Debarquement. But these symptoms must start immediately after disembarking rather than weeks later. It’s also possible but less likely that the precipitating event was from riding in a train, car, or other land vehicle or from laying on a water bed.
It might feel like the ground is uneven when they’re walking on a flat floor. Plus, feelings of swaying, bobbing, rocking, and other passive motions are common while sitting still.
Although the feelings of movement are noticeable and can affect a person’s ability to function, the feelings are rarely that of someone experiencing full vertigo spinning or motion sickness. Instead, the feelings are more subtle but consistent and persistent regardless of whichever kind of still environment that they’re in. This type of balance disorder can still be incredibly unsettling, and impair one’s ability to work.
Some people might also experience depression and anxiety, which aren’t a direct result of MdDS. Instead, they’re a result of the symptoms that MdDS produces. Some mood disorders are often triggered by a precipitating event, and people can develop these types of mood disorders because of their loss of a sense of control.
And this disorder can definitely affect a person’s quality of life. A person might also experience memory problems, fatigue, and confusion. The fatigue and confusion is often a result of the person’s inability to get quality sleep because they feel nauseous. The Vestibular Disorders Association also found data suggesting a connection to migraines as well.
Treatment for Mal de Debarquement
There isn’t a cure for Mal de Debarquement, and it’s a syndrome that is very difficult to treat. And if the symptoms last for more than 12 months, it’s unlikely that they’ll suddenly subside like they do with people who have only had it for a few months.
Clonazepam in low to moderate doses can be effective in treating the symptoms in some patients, but higher doses don’t yield better results.
Another, newer treatment that is much less common is a treatment that Dr. Mingjia Dai developed. This treatment involves readaptation of the vestibulo-ocular reflex through passive motion. With this type of vestibular rehabilitation treatment, the goal is to reverse what Dr. Dai identified as a vestibular maladaptation. To reverse this maladaptation, Dai used a full field optokinetic stimulus and rolled the person’s head while they watched the screen. The direction of the stimulus had to be the opposite of the vestibular imbalance that had been created while the person was at sea.
The result were that about 50% of people noticed a reduced feelings of rolling for about a year. Unfortunately, the results didn’t last, and people noticed a recurrence of the symptoms after that period of time. One of the things that is hopeful for people who suffer from MdDS is that it has shown to be effective in people who have the syndrome for even as long as 15 to 20 years.
Disability Benefits for Mal de Debarquement
Although Mal de Debarquement Syndrome is very uncommon, it’s a condition that can significantly affect people’s lives and make it difficult to work. Also, because not very many people know about it, having an experienced attorney can help you build a successful claim.
As with most types of disabilities, showing that you have a long-term history with the syndrome and that it hasn’t or is unlikely to get better within the next 12 months is crucial in developing a SSA claim. They also need to be able to show that they are unable to find any long-term jobs that they can reasonably do.
To show this pattern, a person who is experiencing these symptoms should seek medical attention as soon as they notice them. They also need to continue to see a doctor to establish a long-running history of MdDS. In this medical history, the doctor should also establish which treatment methods have been tried and the duration of each of the treatments.
Establishing a pattern at work might also help. For instance, a person suffering from MdDS could also gather work records to show how they have dealt with the symptoms in the past. For instance, if they have a history of needing to leave work or being unable to perform their duties because of an inability to concentrate, documentation of these incidents can further help establish a case.
One of the biggest hurdles in getting disability benefits for MdDS is the fact that it’s so rare and many people are inexperienced with the symptoms, treatments, and the degree to which it can affect a person’s life. For people who are submitting a claim for SSDI benefits, getting an experienced attorney who already knows about the syndrome and the process for attaining benefits can greatly improve the likelihood of a successful claim.
How We Can Help
There are several ways in which the team at Osterhout Berger Disability Law can help you receive the benefit you deserve. We help individuals who need to…
- Apply for Social Security Benefits and want to ensure everything is done right the first time
- Appeal an existing denial of Social Security Disability Benefits
- Appeal an existing denial of Long Term Disability (LTD) Benefits
If you are facing one of these situations due to MdDS, please do not hesitate in reaching out. Our team of experienced attorneys are here to help, and your consultation is free.