People with multiple sclerosis face challenges with mobility and quality of life. As rehabilitation professionals, we know that the options for MS treatment are limited. While many treatments focus on managing symptoms or slowing the progress of the disease, few provide the hope of improving function and mobility.
The PoNS™ (short for Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator) is an innovative medical device that gently stimulates the surface of the tongue, exciting the neural network flowing to the brain. This neural activity is believed to enable neuroplasticity, which has the potential to improve walking and balance in individuals with deficits due to mild to moderate symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
In a clinical study of 20 patients with multiple sclerosis, it was shown that using the PoNS™ device in combination with physical therapy over 14 weeks led to a significant improvement in walking, compared to physical activity alone. Ninety-five percent of all study patients experienced improvement in their walking, however, the PoNS Therapy™ group, on average, had 2x improvement in their walking scores.
As one of Ontario’s leading centres for the treatment of neurological conditions and injuries, we use the most current evidence-based techniques to enhance & restore function. Propel Physiotherapy is one of only a handful of authorized PoNS Therapy™ clinics in Ontario. Our certified PoNS Trainers™ have experienced firsthand how PoNS Therapy™ for MS has helped improve the walking and balance of our patients. We have documented the results of one of our clients who recently completed the 14-week program and shared the results in the following case study.
PoNS Therapy™ for MS Case Study
The client is a 54-year-old male diagnosed with Primary Progressive MS in 2008. He has been receiving physiotherapy for the past 10 years focused on improving his walking and balance. In addition to experiencing challenges walking, he also has some leg discomfort. His goal is to improve the quality, speed and endurance of his walking, and is hoping that PoNS Therapy™ will give him a noticeable boost in all of those areas.
After an initial consultation to determine whether PoNS Therapy™ was right for him, we completed our baseline assessment and began a the 14-week intensive physiotherapy program that combines in-clinic and in-home use of the PoNS™ device guided by one of our Certified PoNS™ Trainers, focusing on balance and gait exercises.
At the end of the 14 weeks, he saw 30% improvement in regular walking speed and over 30% while walking fast. His walking times are now just shy of normal values for men in their 50’s.
His endurance increased by 41 metres in a 6-minute walk test. To put that into context, in a 30-minute walk, he would be able to walk an extra 2.5 city blocks after PoNS Therapy™.
He shaved 3.1 seconds off of his Timed Up and Go test, which is a simple screening test that measures the progress of balance, sit-to-stand and walking to determine the probability of falls.
He also demonstrated qualitative improvements in the depression and anxiety portion of the Neurological QoL™ measurement.
When asked his thoughts about PoNS Therapy™ for MS, this client said, “I can say for sure that my posture has dramatically improved. My daughter even said to me, ‘dad you walk normal now.’ I can walk a few blocks further too. My world literally became a bit bigger.” The client has chosen to continue PoNS Therapy™ beyond the 14-weeks to further improve his mobility.
“I have been working with clients with Multiple Sclerosis over many years, and now seeing the results from using the PoNS™ device coupled with an intensive physiotherapy program, we are super excited to see how far our clients can continue to go with this,” says Kyle Whaley, Executive Director, Propel Physiotherapy. “We have been using exercise as a treatment strategy for MS for years, and frankly, have not seen the improvements that we see when it’s coupled with the PoNS™ device.”
The program is challenging and will push clients to move more than they would with a more typical rehabilitation program so keeping focused and highly motivated is key. This is where Propel Physiotherapy’s experienced therapists and certified PoNS™ Trainers will be able to use their knowledge and skills to guide our clients through the successful completion of the program.
If you have a client with mild to moderate MS who are experiencing issues with their gait, contact us for a complimentary consultation and find out if PoNS Therapy™ is right for them.
Kyle WhaleyRegistered Physiotherapist
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