September 30, 2011

Not All Spinning Motions Cause Dizziness

In one of the stranger research projects I've encountered in awhile, French scientists reported on why in the sport of discus throwing, athletes tend to feel more dizzy than those who hammer throw.

Whether discus or hammer throwing, both require spinning on part of the athlete before letting the discus/hammer go for long distances.

59% report dizziness with discus throwing, but none with hammer throwing. Why?

This occurred even among athletes who did both sports eliminating individual susceptibilities to dizziness.

Based on slow-motion video analysis, it was conjectured that visual bearings can be used more easily with hammer throwing than during discus throwing. Moreover, less foot contact with the ground for ground-body tactile feedback and generation of head movements liable to induce motion sickness from acceleration were felt to be contributing factors.

How do these findings translate to patients who are dizzy?

1) Visual bearings - Fixate on objects that you know to be still
2) Increase body-ground contact - Wear flat shoes instead of stiletto heels as well as cane/walker use
3) Minimize sudden turning head motions - Turn with the body rather than the head, or turn the head slowly

Of note, this research project won the 2011 Ig Nobel Prize for Physics.

Dizziness in discus throwers is related to motion sickness generated while spinning. Acta Otolaryngol. 120 (3), 390-5.
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids.

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