For people with multiple sclerosis (MS), there is now promising new technology being tested that can greatly improve balance and body control. The new technology is a small device that’s simply placed in the mouth. This is the PoNS Device which was developed at the University of Wisconsin and is now undergoing trials at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s (UNMC) Munroe-Meyer Institute.
The idea is that the metal piece you see sticking out interacts with nerves on the tongue. These nerves go to the brain and can then somehow improve things. Here’s how a UNMC article described the function:
A battery-powered device, the PoNS
— developed by a trio of researchers
at the University of Wisconsin —
is placed in the mouth where
thousands of nerve endings on the
tongue can send messages to the
healthy areas of the brain.
The idea is that the stimulation,
in combination with therapeutic
exercise, helps the brain form new
neural pathways for recovering
functions like balance and
movement. Those skills are vital for
those affected by MS, cerebral palsy,
traumatic brain injuries, strokes and
During testing, testers and researchers found substantial improvement over just a few weeks. Watch the video below of tester Kim who went from having trouble standing to light jogging to a 1.5 mile walk.
Physical therapy is a big part of the process to improvement. Which is why testing trials with just physical therapy will be compared to the PoNS + physical therapy trials. Either way if the results experienced by Kim can be accomplished for others, further research is welcome. For more information on the PoNS Device, visit this UNMC link or download this PDF article.