Mollii, an electrostimulation suit, can help reduce muscle stiffness, or spasticity, and its associated pain, as well as improve muscle activation in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy, stroke, and other neurological injuries, according to Inerventions, the Swedish company that developed and markets it.
With a few hours of weekly treatment people report better control over their bodies, and an ability to walk and move with less effort, with benefits for their quality of life. Each cycle of electrostimulation takes 60 minutes, and subsequent effects can last for up to 48 hours.
The product was showcased at this year’s Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS), held Sept. 11–13 in Stockholm. It became available in Europe as a medical device in late 2012.
Mollii works on the principle that small electrical currents are able to stimulate muscles that neurosignals cannot reach in people with brain disorders that make muscles stiff.
Many of our muscles work in pairs. When the brain tells a muscle to contract, a reflex will relax the opposing muscle so that it can accommodate contraction on the other side of a joint — a mechanism called reciprocal inhibition.
Brain signals are weaker in people with spasticity, and may not trigger that reflex. Mollii stimulates the muscles opposite the stiff muscles. “If the bicep is spastic, the tricep is stimulated, which in turn makes the bicep relaxed,” the company says. Relaxing the muscle enables active movements and a gradual improvement in function, a positive effect the body can keep for up to two days following stimulation.
Transcutaneous electrical nervous stimulation (TENS) is widely employed to control pain. Research has also demonstrated that this treatment can modulate central nervous system activity to reduce spasticity.
The electro suit consists of a pair of trousers, a jacket, and a detachable control unit embedded with 58 electrodes, positioned to stimulate 40 key muscles across the body. Mollii is worn the same way as an ordinary garment, and comes in sizes suited to adults and children.
The device delivers low-frequency electrical stimulation through the skin to the muscles, and can be programmed based on each person’s needs. In addition to relaxing stiff, tense, and aching muscles, it can also facilitate muscle activation and contraction, aiding movement.
Each cycle of muscle stimulation proceeds automatically for 60 minutes.
A number of clinical studies (including randomized controlled trials) have been completed or are ongoing in several countries to test Mollii in children and adults with MS, cerebral palsy, and stroke. Studies completed to date show improvements in spasticity, related pain, sleep, as well as in physical abilities such as range-of-motion, balance, hand-arm functions, walking and mobility, Inerventions states.
A case study of a women with secondary progressive MS (SPMS) reports greater mobility and more effective upper limb function following a one-hour stimulation. The woman also reported continuing to feel some benefits the following day.
“The Mollii suit lessens the battle between my left and right side, resulting in less energy needed for mobility,” she said.
Based on this single case study, the researchers suggested “that further investigation is indicated to explore the nature, duration, and significance of the effects of this new treatment, in the MS population.”
Of note, Mollii is not to be used with electrical implanted devices or medical devices that are affected by magnets, such as shunts. For optimal effectiveness, Mollii should be used together with physiotherapy, training, activity, and movement.
You can find product testimonials here.