Neural Sleeve to aid walking with MS makes Time’s best inventions list

Among 200 devices magazine considers 'groundbreaking' for 2023

Margarida Maia, PhD avatar

by Margarida Maia, PhD |

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Neural Sleeve, a bionic piece of clothing by Cionic designed to help with walking and strength, is among the 200 devices on Time magazine’s annual list of best inventions, under its accessibility category.

The lightweight, leg-worn device, which combines continuous motion analysis with functional electrical stimulation, was cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use by people with foot drop and leg muscle weakness due to multiple sclerosis (MS) or other conditions in 2022.

“It’s an honor to be recognized among the leading global innovators who are transforming healthcare,” Jeremiah Robison, Cionic’s founder and CEO, said in a company press release.

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Time’s choices for 2023’s best inventions feature “a list of 200 groundbreaking inventions … that are changing how we live, work, play, and think about what’s possible,” the magazine’s editors wrote.

The recognition adds to a growing list of awards for Cionic, which was selected as a Rising Star winner earlier this month at the Digital Health Hub Foundation and Digital Health Awards, in the consumer wellness category.

“We are grateful to TIME and the Digital Health Hub Foundation for putting a spotlight on the Cionic Neural Sleeve as we work to create a more accessible world for people of all abilities,” Robison said.

Using a dense mesh of sensors embedded in the fabric, Neural Sleeve tracks movement in real time using proprietary Read+Write neural interface technology, measuring the body’s position and how individual muscles fire during movement, the company reports.

Neural Sleeve then delivers functional electrical stimulation to activate specific muscles in the thigh and leg, in sync with each person’s intended movement, which can be predicted by measuring electrical signals from the brain.

Its use could help to counter foot drop in MS, a disease symptom that causes the front of the foot to drag on the ground while walking.

Studies by the company have shown that Neural Sleeve use resulted in an average 143% reduction in foot drop. Another reported finding almost 94% of participants with greater flexion angle at heel strike with the ground.

“I have been using the Neural Sleeve for a month now. I could never have imagined all the gains I’ve made in such a short time,” said Amy Salisbury, an MS patient.

“The Neural Sleeve has not only allowed me to step out into the world, but step back into being myself. I once again am able to do activities I enjoyed with much less fatigue and more stability,” Salisbury added.

A mobile app for iOS and Android, called Cionic, is available for use with the device. It allows users to customize their treatment with a library of exercises and educational resources.

“We have been truly inspired by the stories of our customers using the Cionic Neural Sleeve to move with more freedom and control,” Robison said. “Whether it’s climbing a mountain, returning to the workforce, or engaging more actively with their loved ones, every day these individuals motivate the work that we do.”