Moving into a new year, it’s rewarding to not only look ahead and manifest goals but to also reflect on one’s past achievements. As we welcome 2021, we are taking the time to reflect on the evolution of the PoNSTM device and the remarkable innovations that led to today’s treatment. Born from early research related to wearable assistive technology and growing into a groundbreaking device developed out of personal need, the PoNSTM device has uncovered a variety of vital insights related to the treatment of balance and gait deficits.
Below, we outline the key scientific breakthroughs that led to the PoNSTM device, which is now helping those with a balance deficit due to mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury (mmTBI) and gait deficit as a result of mild and moderate symptoms of multiple sclerosis across Canada.
Early Days of Innovation
In collaboration with his colleagues, PoNSTM co-developer and biomedical engineer, Mitch Tyler, ran a variety of lab-based clinical trials at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Working closely with neuroscientist, Yuri Danilov, and electrical engineer, Kurt Kaczmarek, the team began developing prototypes of wearable assistive technology to assist those experiencing walking and navigation difficulties in 1998.
"The research and development of this technology took a personal turn when Tyler developed an ear infection in 2000. This led to a severe balance deficit, helping Tyler understand"
Precursor to PoNSTM
The research and development of this technology took a personal turn when Tyler developed an ear infection in 2000. This led to a severe balance deficit, helping Tyler understand first-hand the impact balance issues have on everyday life. He and the team set out to develop a device that would compensate for his balance deficit and assist others who experience the same impairments.
Utilizing knowledge gained from their earlier work, Tyler, Danilov and Kaczmarek developed a technology that was designed specifically to improve balance deficiencies by providing head and body position feedback through sensors placed on the tongue.
Combining Technology & Therapeutic Activities
While this was a breakthrough in understanding how technology can support treatment of balance disorders, they discovered neurofeedback wasn't always the optimal solution. From the clinical results of the federally supported research project, the trio recognized a different application of this form of neurostimulation was possible. They continued to develop a new prototype to support this approach to treatment.
In 2008, Tyler and his partners realized stimulation, when combined with targeted rehabilitative exercises, led to more significant improvements in their patient’s balance deficits. This innovation has led to a broader application of this form of neuromodulation as a therapy for treating a variety of neurological disorders that cause physical impairment.
The Helius Partnership
In 2014, Tyler, Danilov and Kaczmarek partnered with Helius Medical Technologies to further the groundbreaking research employing the PoNSTM device with the intention to one day offer this innovative technology to those who needed it most.
With robust results generated in pilot studies related to the efficacy of the PoNSTM device for treating balance deficiency due to mmTBI and MS-related gait deficiency, further funding was provided for controlled and in-depth studies.
The Present & Future of PoNSTM
Today, PoNS TreatmentTM can be found in over 30 authorized clinics and has helped to treat over 150 patients. Authorized to treat balance-deficits caused by mild-to-moderate TBI, as well as MS-related gait deficits within Canada, the PoNSTM device is helping to assist a wide variety of patients. Receiving personal calls from neurologists, therapists and patients, Tyler is humbled to witness the impact that PoNSTM has on patients with the improvements they are able to make as a result of this treatment.
The research and innovation related to PoNSTM continues to grow. There is still so much more to discover about the potential for this innovative technology.
In 2021, our goal is to help all PoNSTM patients experience greater control, independence and peace of mind in their daily living.
Looking for support related to mild-to-moderate TBI or MS? Check out our TBI and MS Community Resource pages. To stay up-to-date with PoNS Treatment™, follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn or subscribe to our newsletter.