As neurotherapy becomes an increasingly effective way of improving brain performance through innovative stimulation techniques, more healthcare clinics across Canada are embracing it as a treatment option for a myriad of medical conditions. From mild to moderate traumatic brain injuries to multiple sclerosis, innovations in neurotherapy are helping Canadians manage chronic balance and gait deficit.
Offering New Hope
The PoNS Treatment™ is one such innovation in neurotherapy being adopted by more and more clinicians across Canada. The 14-week treatment combines mild stimulation of the surface of the tongue via the PoNS™ device with targeted therapeutic activities, which may create a neuroplastic effect that helps to improve balance and gait.
Neuphysio Rehabilitation, a London-based private rehabilitation company offering physiotherapy services, is one of the latest clinics to receive authorization to offer PoNS Treatment™. Neuphysio focuses on trauma, neurological rehabilitation, vestibular rehabilitation and gait and balance training, with the goals of improving mobility, stability and quality of life for its clients.
“It’s very exciting. It’s a great fit for the people we serve here, as 85 per cent of them are struggling with their balance after an injury,” said Neuphysio owner Sari Shatil.
The Power of Sport
Shatil’s private practice was the first to adopt a neurophysiotherapy clinic niche in London and has accommodated over 60,000 patient visits since its opening 10 years ago. Before opening her clinic, she worked rotating roles in hospitals and clinics across Ontario, gaining a thorough understanding of many aspects of neurotherapy. She went on to pursue a master’s degree in the field of neuro rehab, focusing her studies on the impact of using sport as a tool to improve balance and quality of life in patients who had recently suffered a brain injury. This unique approach served as the basis for Shatil to start her own neurorehabilitation clinic.
She founded what is now known as “therapeutic golf rehabilitation”, where she uses golf as a rehabilitation tool to improve balance, mobility, flexibility, strength and fitness. The six-week program is an innovative method of therapy for those with physical limitations or brain injuries of some kind.
Shatil’s commitment to using sport as a treatment option for neurological injuries extends beyond golf. She has also found success in using curling to help her patients overcome their injuries and was instrumental in helping one of her patients qualify for Team Canada’s paralympic curling team. She travelled to Sochi with the team in 2014, where they won the gold medal. Since that time, she has assumed a formal training role with Team Canada’s paralympic curling team.
“For me, this is the culmination of all kinds of things that I believe in and practice and pull together, where you have such an incredible normalcy and elitism in athletics and yet you might be in a chair or have spasticity,” she said.
The Future of Brain Health
Recently, Neuphysio Rehabilitation became an Authorized PoNS Treatment™ Clinic and will now be offering the 14-week treatment for mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injuries and multiple sclerosis. The device is based on almost 40 years of research and is believed to enhance neuroplasticity in the brain.
Shatil is excited to see how the pairing of different treatment options, in this case low-grade stimulation of the tongue through the PoNS device™ combined with therapeutic activities, will impact brain health moving forward. She is also interested in seeing how physical treatment options will impact cognition, as a body of research outlines the positive correlation between improvements in exercise and improvement in other areas, such as cognitive function. In one 2019 study, older adults with cognitive impairments found the best cognitive results stemmed from exercise programs with short session duration and high frequencies.
“I’m interested in the relationship between the physical and the cognitive and how they interact. It is going to create a new avenue for so many people.”