Resources for 12YO with severe motion sickness

Hi BPN - hoping that this will help improve our current and future vacations...

We have a 12 year old who has severe motion sickness in the car (and boats and airplanes.) It is certainly a physical/sensory issue, but at this point there's a psychological component as well. It's limiting and distressing - for all of us!  And yes - whatever over the counter options you can think of (dramamine, wrist bands, eye glasses, ginger chews, etc.) we've tried 'em. 

Can anyone recommend an Occupational and/or Physical Therapist who is a superstar with this, who is taking patients?  Or any other treatment where you had success?


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My Dad had also tried everything and a Reliefband (available on Amazon) was the only thing that worked. I don't know whether it is considered safe for kids, it actually sends a small electric current to disrupt the nerves communicating the motion sickness, but you could check out their info. It's made a world of difference for my dad. 

I'm impressed you've lasted this long without a prescription. Our son has a history of significant motion sickness in the car and we've had a prescription from his pediatrician for Zofran for years - an oral dissolving tablet ("ODT") that works great. The generic name for Zofran is Ondansetron. Very safe, very few side effects (it makes him a little sleepy, not the worst thing for a car ride). If you can have a few successful trips w/ Zofran on board, that will help with the psychological side of things - the child just needs to know they can trust that something works! And then the stress subsides. Good luck!  

I had such good care and relief for my vertigo from RISE Physical Therapy in Walnut Creek. They came highly recommended and I can now join in for their praises. I had a handful of sessions over the course of two months that were able to identify the exact problem and then provide treatment and full remedy. I suggest you call for a consultative first session . I trust their judgment and expertise.  

Motion sickness. 

At various phases of my life, I have experienced it.

With no professional background in this area, I will offer some thoughts:

1. It may have a hormonal component, just as nausea can be present in pregnancy.

2. It may be connected to inner-ear issues. I have an ear disease called otosclerosis.   It precludes my being able to practice aikido, in which rolling and tumbling is involved.

Still, I have been able to manage nausea by focusing in certain ways.

In ballet training, dancers learn to balance while turning by focusing on the point where they will land at the end of the turn.

A few years ago, we had the opportunity to take the ferry between Lahaina, Maui, and Molokai'i. It crossed a deep-sea channel that was choppy. I was concerned that I would not be able to handle it.  But by keeping my eyes on the horizon, the nausea did not kick in and it was all fine.

3. Is the kid reacting, not from physiological reasons, but as a psychological coping mechanism, a way to try to prevent travel that they don't want to do?

Once our family took Amtrak from Oakland to Sacramento to go to the railroad museum.  Accompanying us was a nine-year-old friend.

The train stopped on top of the bridge over the Carquinez Strait, where we sat for ten minutes staring down about 80' at the water.

The nine-year-old had a panic attack. 

Come to find out, he was regularly subjected to solo cross-country plane trips for custody exchanges.

I am able to control my motion sickness, but it is I who decides the level of adventure I sign up for.

Does your child's motion sickness abate if they buy in to the activity the family is doing that might be a trigger?

My son also gets severe motion sickness- family car trips were a big challenge and he’d sometimes get sick before we made it onto the freeway. There was also a lot of anxiety about being in the car and anticipating getting sick. 

We talked to his pediatrician, who prescribed ondansetron. This has been a game changer for the family. He hasn’t gotten car sick once since he started the meds (5 years ago). He takes one pill 30 minutes before we are scheduled to leave. I’ve recommended this to friends, who have also had success with this medication. Good luck!

Bummer! I have a 16 y/o with a similar issue, his dad did too at his age, but he seems to be growing out of it as he ages - perhaps yours will to? We've also tried everything you list....watching this thread for more suggestions and just wanted to say - I relate! Hang in there!

My boy had a severe motion sickness. His occupational therapist said that he needed upper shoulders strength. Like monkey bars or rock climbing.

It did help. The motion sickness is not gone but it DID get better.