Neubie electrical stimulation device found to help in progressive MS

Along with PT, device seen to improve patient strength, range of motion

Lindsey Shapiro, PhD avatar

by Lindsey Shapiro, PhD |

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A course of neuromuscular electrical stimulation using Neufit‘s neuro-bio-electric stimulator — a device dubbed Neubie — alongside physical therapy (PT) led to improvements in strength and range of motion for seven people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a case series.

Use of the Neubie device and PT also was seen to help ease spasticity, characterized by muscle spasms, or a sudden, involuntary tightening of the muscle, in these patients, all with progressive MS.

The findings were detailed in a new study, titled “A case series in individuals with multiple sclerosis using direct current electrical stimulation to inhibit spasticity and improve functional outcomes,” published in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal – Experimental, Translational and Clinical.

“We’ve heard many anecdotes from our certified practitioners who have used [the Neubie device] with their patients with marked success,” Ramona von Leden, PhD, NeuFit’s director of research, said in a company press release.

“It’s exciting to see these results published by one of our research partners, which definitively show the effectiveness of direct current electrical stimulation with the Neubie for improving quality of life for patients with neurological conditions like MS,” von Leden said.

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In MS, chronic neurodegeneration disrupts the function of nerve cells, including those that communicate with muscles. This can lead to symptoms such as muscle weakness, wasting, and spasticity, or stiffness.

Such manifestations of MS can cause significant movement challenges that interfere with a person’s ability to go about the activities of daily life, and also increase the risk of falls.

The Neubie system is designed to identify areas of the body where nerve-muscle communication is disrupted while patients are physically active. It then delivers direct current electrical stimulation to the skin over that area.

This stimulation essentially works to re-educate or reboot the neuromuscular system and restore more normal functioning. The overall goal of treatment with the device is to promote plasticity, or the healthy process by which the brain rewires itself in response to new inputs.

Neubie is cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for such neuromuscular re-education, as well as for increasing range of motion, boosting blood circulation, preventing atrophy, and helping in pain management. However, use of the device is not specifically indicated for MS.

In a three-day physical therapy bootcamp hosted by NeuFit in 2021 — the results of which were previously reported — the device led to measurable gains in function and strength for six MS patients.

Now, Courtney Ellerbusch, a physical therapist at Centura Home Health, in Colorado, spearheaded the new effort to further test the Neubie device in MS patients with mobility impairments.

Ellerbusch says she was inspired by her patients’ motivation to improve their motor function.

“I [completed] this project for the individuals who face a daily reality in MS that has changed everything about their lives,” Ellerbusch said.

Her study involved seven participants with progressive MS whose advanced disease required them to use a walking aid or a wheelchair to perform most of their activities. These individuals completed six weeks of home health-delivered physical therapy, for a total of 18 visits.

During that time, they also underwent a four-part electrical stimulation intervention with the Neubie device. The intervention was targeted to address specific aspects of each patient’s condition, such as symptoms of nerve damage, known as neuropathy, spasticity, weakness, and functional movements.

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With Neubie and PT, 2 patients now could stand without spasticity

Overall, the Neubie device appeared feasible to use and well tolerated. Only one person missed a single visit during the program, which was due to a urinary tract infection unrelated to Neubie treatment.

“The tolerance of the electrical stimulation combined with intensive functionally driven exercise is remarkable,” Ellerbusch said.

Trends toward improved strength and reduced spasticity were observed across various muscle groups in the seven patients. For two patients, that meant they could stand for the first time in more than three years without their usual spasticity.

Range of motion and walking improvements also were observed for some patients.

I am also struck by how much the psychological component impacts the functional outcomes, and those with a positive outlook tended to celebrate their achievements and look for more opportunities to move successfully.

For some participants, walking improvements and spasticity reductions meant that they were able to perform standing training in physical therapy when they previously wouldn’t have been able to do so — a finding Ellerbusch says “stands out as noteworthy.”

“I am also struck by how much the psychological component impacts the functional outcomes, and those with a positive outlook tended to celebrate their achievements and look for more opportunities to move successfully,” Ellerbusch said.

While the findings altogether promote the feasibility of the Neubie system for MS patients, the researchers noted that “this is a small pilot study case series, so to make conclusions requires abundant humility and caution.”

“The case series findings suggest further research is warranted,” the researchers wrote in the publication.

Neufit was not involved in conducting the study or writing the publication, but did provide funding for certain aspects of the research.