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In November 2019, Helius Medical hosted a webinar to educate Canadian physicians about PoNS Treatment™. This webinar was led by Dr. Michael Yochelson, Chief Medical Officer at The Shepherd Center, one of the world’s most prestigious rehabilitative medical centres. PoNS™ study investigator Dr. Yochelson discussed the need for PoNS Treatment™ and the science behind the device.

PoNS Treatment™ involves translingual nerve stimulation combined with therapeutic activities. The program lasts 14 weeks and addresses cases of chronic balance deficit resulting from mild or moderate traumatic brain injury (mmTBI). The PoNS device is intended for use as a short-term treatment (14 weeks) of chronic balance deficit due to mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury (mmTBI) and is to be used in conjunction with physical therapy.

Here are some of our webinar highlights:

1.    Mild TBI is underrecognized, and as a result, undertreated

A loss of consciousness is one of the most well-known indications of a concussion but does not occur in the majority of mild TBI cases. As a result, many patients fail to recognize that a TBI has occurred and do not pursue follow-up care. Further care is typically only sought out if symptoms continue beyond the typical recovery period (approximately three months)

2.    Current options for care are limited

TBI is a complex diagnosis, and once chronic symptoms set in, options for care are reduced. Often, monitoring symptom progression is the only choice.

Rest is the most common treatment recommendation post-concussion but isn’t sustainable for long-term care. It is imperative that mmTBI patients begin to incorporate active rehabilitation after a brief period of rest during the acute phase (24 to 48 hrs) post-injury to regain quality of life. With variable length of treatment and outcome metrics, it’s difficult to optimize a treatment plan.

The Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, one of the only organizations in North America to develop best practices post-TBI, established a protocol for patients to partake in as many detailed assessments as possible throughout the recovery process. This protocol provides an ongoing evaluation of progress and indication of additional care requirements or when a treatment plateau has been reached. 

3.    Neuromodulation can potentially enhance patient outcomes

Adding neuromodulation to the treatment plan for patients who have plateaued with standard treatment is believed to modulate the way neuroplasticity takes place. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury. Clinical studies have explored how neuromodulation can potentially enhance the typical outcomes for individuals with mmTBI to improve recovery speed and magnitude.

4.    An introduction to PoNS Treatment™

PoNS Treatment™ is unique in that it provides neuromodulation through stimulation of cranial nerves on the surface of the tongue. The activation of these structures initiates neural activity that is believed to create changes in those associated areas, encouraging neuroplastic healing.

Patients can feel the stimulation when using the PoNS™ device, but do not experience pain. In combination with therapeutic activities, this simulation may enhance the neuroplastic effect to result in functional improvement.

Patients participating in PoNS Treatment™ work with a Certified PoNS™ Trainer through therapeutic sessions. Throughout the 14-week program, trainers conduct assessments to monitor the changes made through the Treatment.

5.    Review of clinical studies

The clinical studies were designed and developed to use PoNS Treatment™ as a well-defined treatment plan and as an option for recovery. The 26-week randomized trial had significant results, with approximately 74% of participants experiencing significant improvement in their balance1 (defined by an improvement of 15 points or greater on Sensory Organization Test, “SOT”) and showed meaningful improvements in their gait and walking endurance2. Not only were these improvements evident, the outcomes were sustained for 12 weeks after discontinuing treatment.

Conclusion

This webinar gave medical professionals a greater understanding of the limitations of current TBI standards, with insight into a new treatment option to improve care for those impacted by chronic balance deficit from mild or moderate TBI.

Interested in partnering with PoNS Treatment™?

Contact us for more information about how you can become an Authorized PoNS Treatment™ Clinic and offer this care option for your clients. Find more information on our website, and keep in touch by following us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

References: 1. Helius Medical Technologies. Data on File. 2019 Post Hoc Analysis – Long Term Treatment Trial – Responder rate – Pharma Data Associates 2. Tyler M, et al. Arch Res Rehabil Clin Transl. 2019; 1(3-4):10026.