Semin Neurol 2009; 29(5): 520-527
DOI: 10.1055/s-0029-1241038
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Mal de Debarquement

Yoon-Hee Cha1
  • 1Department of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, California
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
15 October 2009 (online)


Mal de debarquement (MdD), the “sickness of disembarkment,” occurs when habituation to background rhythmic movement becomes resistant to readaption to stable conditions and results in a phantom perception of self motion typically described as rocking, bobbing, or swaying. Although several studies have shown that brief periods of MdD are common in healthy individuals, this otherwise natural phenomenon can become persistent in some individuals and lead to severe balance problems. Increased recognition of MdD in a persistent pathological form occurred after the publication of a case series of six patients by Brown and Baloh in 1987. Over 20 years later, although more is known about the clinical syndrome of persistent MdD, little is known about what leads to this persistence. This review addresses the clinical features of MdD, the associated symptoms in the persistent form, theories on pathogenesis, experience with treatment, and future directions for research.


Yoon-Hee Cha, M.D. 

Visiting Researcher, Department of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

710 Westwood Plaza, Box 951769, Los Angeles, CA 90095

Email: [email protected]