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Home » Managing Illnesses » PoNS Treatment™ Could Help Canadian MS Patients with Chronic Gait Deficit
Kim Skinner

Kim Skinner

Director of Physical Therapy, Helius Medical Technologies

When Elaine Buckstein was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at the age of 27, she quickly learned not to take anything for granted. As a degenerative autoimmune disease, MS is known for robbing people of things that had once seemed unassailable, like the ability to read a book and the ability to walk down the street.

With her husband at her side, Elaine was determined not to let her diagnosis dictate the course of her life. Nonetheless, she eventually found herself unable to keep up with the fast-paced work environment at her job as Director of Bylaw Enforcement in a local municipality and was forced to go on long-term disability.

At this point, she knew she had to take a proactive approach to managing her disease. “When symptoms started to become more prevalent and noticeable to others who expressed concern, my neurologist suggested a 10-week program called MS Fitness,” recalls Elaine. “A physiotherapist there recommended that I seek out a Pilates-based program to strengthen my core muscles to help restore my gait. I found a Pilates studio in my area and the work began.”

For Canadians living with MS, the simple fact that new innovations are always in development to improve their lives in practical ways is extremely heartening.

Hard work and innovative treatment

Gait deficit is common among MS patients. Elaine’s gait, or walking ability, had become slow and stilted. Though she continued to walk as much as she could, and though the physiotherapy and Pilates were helping her retain her strength, it nonetheless became clear that she needed a more definitive intervention. For Elaine, that intervention was PoNS™, a non-surgical medical device designed to promote new neural connections, which may help improve gait.

PoNS Treatment™ is a form of rehabilitation that uses a combination of the PoNS™ device plus targeted therapeutic activities to help people with MS who have gait deficits,” explains Kim Skinner, Director of Physical Therapy at Helius Medical Technologies. “The device provides electrical stimulation via an electrode array to the surface of the tongue. This stimulation sequentially excites a natural cascade of activity flowing through networks involved in sensory input and motor control up to the brainstem. When the stimulation is combined with targeted therapeutic activities, it may result in positive neuroplastic changes that are observable in improved function.”

Bringing proven therapies to Canadians

For Canadians living with MS, the simple fact that new innovations are always in development to improve their lives in practical ways is extremely heartening. “Walking is how we move about in our daily lives, whether around the house or in the community,” says Skinner. “The ultimate goal is improvement in function and mobility to help individuals maintain their independence and quality of life.”

PoNS™ was just recently authorized in Canada for the treatment of gait in people with MS. Under the expanded label, the device is intended for the short-term treatment (14 weeks) of gait deficit due to mild and moderate symptoms from MS and is to be used in conjunction with physical therapy. This is just one of the many aspects of scientific progress giving new hope and tangible benefit to those living with MS. 

Today, Elaine is living her best life and is thankful for the treatments, including PoNS™, that have allowed her to do so. “Since PoNS Treatment™, my gait has improved as has my walking,” says Elaine. “My goals are more focused. It will always be a work in progress, since MS is a progressive disease, but I now feel more confident moving through life.”   

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