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Fluctuatingperformance

Canseasickcaptainsstillsteerashipreliably?Ajustifiedquestion,asanyonewhodoesalotofseafaringisnot,inprinciple,immunetoseasickness.Inhisdoctoralthesis,SimonSartisohnisinvestigatingtheobjectiveeffectsofthecomplaintonthesufferer'sreactions,alertnessandcoordination.TheGermannavyisalsointerestedintheresults.

 

Life raft in the wave channel
SimonSartisohn

Aliferaftinthesimulatedwavepool:sportsscientistSimonSartisohnresearchesseasicknessintheswimmingpoolattheGermannavy'soperationaltrainingcentreinNeustadt/Ostholstein.

Whileonepersoncansurvivetheworststormonthehighseaswithoutbattinganeyelid,anotherwillfeelsickjustlookingataboat:seasicknessisaphenomenonthatSimonSartisohnaimstogettogripswithinhisproject"SeasicknessandPerformance".Since2015,thesportsscientisthasbeenworkingonthisatKielUniversity'sInstituteofExperimentalMedicine,whichtheDepartmentofMaritimeMedicinebelongsto,basedattheSchifffahrtsmedizinischesInstitutderMarine(GermanNavalMedicalInstitute)inKronshagen.Sartisohnwantstofindouthowthetypicalsymptomsofseasickness,suchasdizziness,tiredness,nauseaandvomitingactuallyaffectmentalandphysicalperformanceinpractice.Theprojectisfinancedbythird-partyfundsfromUniversityMedicalCenterSchleswig-Holstein(UKSH)andtheGermannavy.Fortheexperiments,theGermannavyalsoofferedupitsswimmingpoolwithwavesimulatoratitsoperationaltrainingcentrefordamagecontrolinNeustadt/Holstein.

"Seasicknessisaproblemthatneedstobetakenseriously,"saidSartisohn.Thisisbecauseitisnotonlypassengerswhocanbeafflictedbytheirsymptoms,butalsosailors.Evenpeoplewhohavesailedtheseasformanyyearsarenotimmunetoseasicknessoritsprecursor,thesopitesyndrome."Undercertaincircumstances,itcanaffecteveryone."Sartisohnhashimselfsufferedfromitontwooccasions:"IfeltassickasadogonajourneythroughtheKattegat,"explainedtheathleticSartisohn,whospendsalotofhisleisuretimetravellingonthewater.Thesicknessoccurswhendifferentsensoryorgansgivedifferentorcontradictoryinformationonthespatiallocationandmovementofthebody(byship,train,rollercoaster).Standingorsittingonasolidshipfloorcombinedwiththeaccelerationorrockingmotionsoftheboatonchoppywatercantriggerthesymptoms.

"Whileseasicknessischaracterisedbysymptomsrangingfromheadache,nauseatovomiting,withsopitesyndromethereareoftenonlysignsoftiredness,likeincreasedyawning,"saidSartisohn."Parentsusethiswhentheyrocktheirchildrentosleep."Oftenthesesymptomsarenotevennoticedbuttheycanstillaffectperformance.ThiswasalsosomethingthatFlensburg-bornSartisohninvestigatedduringhisstudyof51menand51womenagedbetween18and63yearsold."Firstly,Iwantedtomakeobjectivestatementsaboutphysical,cognitiveandmentallimitationstoperformanceandlinkthesewithsubjectivestresssensationsfeltbythoseinvolvedinthestudy,"explainedSartisohn,whousedartificiallyproducedwavesinthenavyswimmingpooltosubjectparticipantsonaliferafttorealisticseaconditions.

"Beforeandafter,wegavethepeopleahealthcheckandadifferentperformancetest,tooksalivasamplesandaskedthemabouttheirsubjectivefeelings,"explainedSartisohn.Tenparticipantsvomited.Others,bycontrast,saidthattheyfeltwellafterthe20-minutetest."Theamountofstresshormonecortisolintheirsalivaincreased,however,andsodidtheirpulserate.Thoseareclearsignalsforinitialsymptoms,"saidSartisohn.Otherresultswereprovidedusingvariousteststomeasurethestrengthofarms,legsandfingersaswellasvariousreactiontimes."Itwasinterestingtodiscoverthatthereactiontimetoacousticsignalshadsloweddown,butnottoopticalsignals."

Thesimulationalsohadeffectsonalertnessandstrengthvalues."Bothdropped.Intheworstcasescenario,thefearwouldbesignificantlossofperformanceandincreasedriskofaccident,"explainedSartisohn,whowillbecompilinghisresultsinhisdoctoralthesisupuntiltheendof2018(PhDsupervisor:ProfessorBurkhardWeisser).Itcouldformthebasisoffurtherresearchtopreventseasicknessinthefuture.AccordingtoSartisohn,itisnotjustanimportantsubjectforseafaring.Itisalsobecominghugelyimportantforotherothers,too,asaresultofnewvirtualtechnologies.Thisisbecausethesamesymptomscanarisewhentravellinginaself-drivingcar,visitinga3DcinemaorusingvirtualOPsystems.

Author:JenniferRuske

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