PoNS Device Now Available Online to Patients in US
Helius and UpScript collaborate on e-commerce site for PoNS Device
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) in the U.S. now may order a Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator (PoNS) device online through a new e-commerce site launched by the device’s developer, Helius Medical Technologies.
“Our UpScript partnership simplifies and shortens the process of accessing healthcare providers and getting a PoNS device into the hands of people motivated to improve their walking,” Dane Andreeff, president and CEO at Helius, said in a press release.
The partnership “speaks to our commitment to help patients take the fight against MS into their own hands,” he added.
PoNS is a noninvasive portable device, made of a mouthpiece connected by a cord to a control unit worn around the neck. The device delivers mild electrical stimulation to two nerves in the tongue linked to a brain region involved in motor control. This stimulation promotes neuroplasticity, a process through which the brain can adapt and rewire itself when exposed to new experiences.
When used in combination with physical therapy, PoNS can strengthen the neural circuits that control movement, increasing the benefits of physical rehabilitation.
The device is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a short-term treatment, combined with supervised exercise programs for walking problems, for adults with mild-to=moderate MS symptoms. PoNS also is approved for use in supervised physical therapy in Canada and Australia.
The approvals were supported by data from two clinical trials (NCT04498039 and NCT04496531), which showed that 14 weeks of PoNS use in combination with an intense exercise program led to significant improvements in balance and other walking skills.
More recently, real-world data also showed substantial improvements in walking ability in MS patients using PoNS, with benefits being evident from the second week onward.
The new e-commerce service provides online health assessments with qualified medical providers, fulfillment of PoNS-related prescriptions, and shipping of the device to the homes of eligible patients in the U.S.
“People want to remove the barriers keeping them from walking their best walk; we want to provide the tools and technology that can help them achieve that goal. That’s what this new telemedicine partnership is all about,” Andreeff said.
Despite the broader availability of the PoNS device, trained supervision during physical therapy with PoNS is still a requirement. Trained physical therapists work in-person with PoNS users for the first two weeks of therapy, guiding them through specific exercise plans that boost the device’s effectiveness. Afterward, users continue the exercise program and PoNS use at home for 12 weeks, under the therapist’s guidance.
Helius also launched last year a Therapeutic Experience Program to increase awareness and expertise in the use of the device in the medical community. The company recently expanded this access to PoNS training through an online training program.
“People that have difficulty walking often face many challenges but leveraging cutting-edge neurologic technology that can improve their day-to-day life shouldn’t be one of them,” Andreeff said.