The Puma Method - a detailed review
This review of the Puma Method was kindly submitted by a reader - many thanks to Andy for this detailed and thorough account of his experiences with the program.
More reviews of the Puma Method are very welcome. Have you had success (or otherwise) with the Puma Method? If so please let me know!
In order to minimize my sensitivity to motion sickness, I did the Puma Method
for three weeks. The Puma Method is essentially a habituation exercise that helps your body become less sensitive to motion stimuli that commonly make people sick. I couldn't find much in the way of reviews/experiences of the system, so I thought I'd offer up mine in detail.
Some background: I have always been at least a little sensitive to motion sickness. As a child, I could do water activities, and roller coasters, but couldn't do many of the spinning carnival rides like Teacups, or the Zipper. I took a little tourist bush plane flight (1.5 hours) in Alaska in my later 20s, and it wrecked me. I got really hot and slept right afterwards for a solid three hours. It took me two days to feel 100% normal again. Now in my mid-30s, I noticed that my sensitivity has really amped up a lot in the last three or so years.
Before the program, I couldn't sit on any kind of boat (kayak, raft, or catamaran, I haven't been on a cruise ship) in the ocean without a strong breeze. If the boat is moving enough for there to be a breeze, I won't really get worse, but I won't really get much better either (if I'm already a little sick). Back seats of cars on windy roads are sick city, and the front passenger seat can make my head pretty heavy without a strong fan, even on a smooth and straight interstate. I often times would look in an odd direction while I'm walking or driving and that may give me a moment of head heaviness or slight dizziness. I didn't care that much before, but it has now gotten to a point where it affects my lifestyle, and many of my daily activities. Basing this only on the other people I have spoken to, on a scale of 1-10 (10 being most sensitive), right now, I would consider myself somewhere between an 8 and a 9.
What I tried previously: Dramamine and Meclizine, wrist bands, ginger, horizon focusing techniques, and stabilizing head techniques. I felt no improvement with wrist bands and ginger. People tell me that they work, and that 'not using them properly' is probably why it's not working for me. I generally consider myself to be a very thorough and tenacious person when it comes to trying these types of things - but they had little to no effect on me. The chemicals (Dramamine and Meclizine) made me severely drowsy, and the focusing techniques worked marginally to slow the process of getting sick, but did not by any means end it.
The Puma Method Program: Without revealing too much of this 'patented'/'copyrighted' material, it is a series of exercises that takes about 10-15 minutes per day (they are brief). The program says it should work in as little as a week, two weeks for average people, and three for very motion-sensitive people, if used every day.
Although the video does appear to be pretty old, and one might think it's a bit comical in its production value, the exercises did induce motion sickness for me. To a person who is mildly sensitive or insensitive to motion, these exercises probably seem very easy. I imagine they would feel dizzy very briefly, but have no further issues. I think the typical person may feel like skipping ahead through the exercises, but for the sake of objectivity, I followed them as exact as I could.
The first night, I got through about 75% of the exercises, but had to stop because I got very dizzy. I actually had to lean up against the wall, and went to bed an hour early. I still felt it a little bit in the morning, but was okay by midday.
I was able to complete 100% of the exercises the 2nd day, but the room was spinning. It wasn't until the 4th day that I noticed any real improvement. I was still getting ill and headachy, but my refractory period improved. Instead of feeling ill until I went to sleep (~1hr), I noticed that I felt relatively normal (though not 100%), after about 10-15 minutes. I still felt like my head got heavy relatively easily with day to day activities such as driving, but I did recover much quicker.
Having now done the exercises for three weeks, I still don't feel habituated enough to try boating, or get in the back seat of a car. Some nights of PUMA exercises went better than others. There would be nights where I would feel heavy dizziness from the exercises, but other nights when I didn't. Although I feel that I now get over motion sickness much more quickly, I believe that my initial sensitivity to motion has not really changed all that much. I'm happy that my recovery period is better, but I have not yet seen significant results regarding getting sick in the first place. I still feel motion sick during car rides (front passenger, little ventilation, over 10 minutes).
A couple of things to note about the Puma Method: Although it is understandable, there is no guarantee if the program is unsuccessful for you, and they will not refund your money if you are unhappy with the product (mostly for transference of intellectual property reasons). They also make the large claim that, "... if the exercises don't work, they [the person using the program] have something else wrong." I feel like this is a rather large presumption for a doctor, because I don't believe they could ever back up this claim with factual evidence, or at least provide any kind scientific data to make this deduction.
To summarize, the Puma Method program affected my ability to recover more quickly from motion sickness, but has not eased the initial symptoms of getting ill.
Would I do the Puma Method program again?
I don't think I'd do it again, because it was not only a fairly significant time commitment (15min/day for 3 weeks, plus motion sickness for most of each evening), but the benefit felt marginal. True, I could recover faster from 10-15 min of motion, but I still felt ill during the activity, and I felt like I was returning to the same sensitivity after just a couple of weeks of not doing the exercises. I pondered continuing the program, but didn't for a couple of reasons: 1: because I'm not sure if it will ultimately work, and 2: if it did work I was concerned how much I'd have to repeat it to maintain the insensitivity.
I wrote this review a little while ago, and have not been able to test my sensitivity with more severe/longer motion until recently. A couple of nights ago I spent my evening on a wave pool with a kayak for about 30-45 min. I felt pretty ill afterwards and through the next morning. The refractory period has not changed under these circumstances, or – alternatively - my sensitivity to motion had changed back to what it used to be.