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Virtual reality can be a real game changer for users with disabilities. From enhancing spatial awareness and even eyesight for blind and low-vision users, to pain management, to helping folks with mobility issues plan accessible routes to take in new places, this remarkable technology can have tremendous function beyond the pure recreation we often see it marketed as. That said, being such a new technology (in its current form) and so recently made available for widespread use, there are still some kinks to be worked out.

A common complaint among users is the motion sickness they experience while using VR headsets. According to the American Institute of Physics, the leading theory for why this occurs is due to the sensory discord created by the eyes receiving information that suggests motion, but the rest of the body (primarily the inner-ear) perceiving stillness. Fortunately, there are some hacks we can employ to limit the severity of motion sickness while using virtual reality devices:

  1. Point a fan at yourself. Some think that this helps offer sensory input to your body that suggests motion more similar to what you are experiencing virtually. Whatever the reason, a cool breeze tends to keep nausea at bay.
  2. Try wearing acupressure wristbands. These soft, thick, bracelet-like mechanisms have hard studs embedded, which wearers can place on pressure points in the wrists. This can help to relieve nausea and vomiting.
  3. Consume ginger root! This stomach-calming remedy can be made into a tea, cooked in food, blended into a smoothie or chewed raw.
  4. Take a seat! The more stability in your body while participating in Virtual Reality, the lesser the effects of motion sickness.
  5. Lower the brightness of your headset. Less intense sensory stimulation can make it easier for your mind and body to adjust to VR.
  6. Don’t forget to breathe. Some VR users can be prone to holding their breath, or breathing in a quick, shallow manner. Limiting oxygen to one’s bloodstream increases the effects of motion sickness, so be sure to breathe deeply and evenly when using Virtual Reality devices!
  7. Some people opt for medications to combat motion sickness, such as Dramamine, or prescription drugs prescribed by a doctor.
  8. Motorized, or ‘cyber ’shoes that simulate physical motion to parallel the user’s virtual experience are being developed and marketed at increasing speed. Aside from helping to quell motion sickness, these can enhance the authenticity of the virtual experience for some users.

Of course, these solutions won’t work for everyone, but until the technology advances beyond causing users to feel sick, they are worth a shot. Happy reality augmenting!

Contributed by Nora Walker

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