Passive Restraint Reduces Visually Induced Motion Sickness in Older Adults

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Virtual environments such as those used in video games and driving/flight simulators are used for entertainment and training, but are often associated with visually induced motion sickness (VIMS). In this study, we asked whether passive restraint of the head and torso could reduce VIMS in younger and older adults. Twenty-one younger (18–35 years) and 16 older (65 + years) healthy adults engaged in a simulated driving task using a console video game while seated. On different days, participants completed 2 conditions: (a) in the unrestrained condition, participants were seated in a chair without a backrest and were free to move and (b) in the restrained condition, participants’ head and torso were passively restrained to the backrest and headrest of the seat using tense elastic strips. Before and after exposure to the driving game, we measured standing postural sway with eyes closed. VIMS severity was quantified using the Fast Motion Sickness Scale and the Simulator Sickness Questionnaire. Results showed that older (but not younger) participants who became sick in the unrestrained condition reported significantly less VIMS when they were passively restrained. The present findings suggest that passive restraint may be useful to reduce, but not fully prevent, VIMS, particularly in older adults.

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