A variety of chronic nervous system diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) result in reduced ability to control movement, i.e. balance, posture, gait, and hand control. Increased tremor and stiffness are also common symptoms in these diseases. Current treatment methods (typically drugs and physical therapy) aim to slow the progress of the disease and help the patient to compensate for loss of function. In some cases symptoms may be temporarily reduced by drugs or implantable brain “pacemakers”, which require expensive surgery. A new technology called cranial-nerve non-invasive neuromodulation (CN-NINM) has been developed to improve the brain’s ability to reorganize and “normalize” its activity during special physical and occupational therapy exercises.
Thirty subjects with multiple sclerosis completed a controlled study at the University of Nebraska at Omaha to quantify the effects of CN-NINM therapy using the PoNSTM device. TCNL collaborated on the experimental design and data analysis. Subjects gained improved balance and gait beyond what is typically available with conventional physical therapy treatment. This study was the first significantly-sized attempt to replicate CN-NINM at an external test site, and provides useful guidance for future off-site studies.