Helius Offers Online PoNS Training to MS Patients’ Therapists

Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator helps treat gait deficits

Lindsey Shapiro, PhD avatar

by Lindsey Shapiro, PhD |

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Helius Medical Technologies has launched an online training module for physical therapists who wish to use the company’s Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator (PoNS) device to treat gait deficits in people with multiple sclerosis (MS).

The on-demand training modules for healthcare providers in the U.S. are now live, with online registration available. Training for providers in Canada will begin later this month.

“We are pleased to introduce our online PoNS Therapy training curriculum,” Dane Andreef, president and CEO of Helius, said in a company press release.

“In the past, physical therapists treating gait deficit in patients with MS received PoNS training through an in-person, multi-day course. Our new online module allows training to be completed in three hours, or less, at the therapist’s own pace,” Andreef added.

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PoNS is a noninvasive portable device consisting of a mouthpiece connected via a cord to a controller worn around the neck. When the mouthpiece is placed on the tongue, it delivers mild electrical stimulation to two nerves that run through the tongue and connect with a brain region involved in motor control.

This stimulation promotes a process called neuroplasticity, in which the brain adapts and “re-wires” in response to new experiences. This increase in neuroplasticity may strengthen neural circuits involved in movement and enhance the benefits of physical rehabilitation in MS patients.

The device is approved in the U.S. as a short-term treatment for walking problems in MS patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms. It is used in combination with supervised exercise programs, and in people age 22 and older. PoNS also is approved in Canada and Australia for similar indications.

Data from two clinical trials (NCT04498039 and NCT04496531) involving 34 adults with MS supported the device’s approval, showing that 14 weeks of PoNS therapy combined with an exercise program safely led to greater improvements in gait compared with exercise alone.

Recently presented real-world data from 42 MS patients who underwent a PoNS rehabilitation program in Canada similarly showed that the device led to marked improvements in walking ability from week 2 onward.

Expanding training

In an effort to increase awareness and expertise of the device in the medical community, Helius recently launched a Therapeutic Experience Program in which the company will partner with neurologists and neurorehabilitation specialists at 10–12 U.S. institutions that have expressed interest in adopting PoNS therapy.

The new online training program will further expand access to PoNS training across the U.S. and Canada.

“Prior to implementing the software, we could only train five to ten people at a time and already we have fifty-five therapists in the queue in the United States, and another twenty in Canada,” Andreef said.

“By standardizing the process and reducing training time, we expand access to training and facilitate physical therapists’ specialization in PoNS Therapy to provide a meaningful therapeutic intervention for MS patients in the United States who suffer from walking impairment,” Andreef added.

Meanwhile, a recently announced Patient Therapy Access Program is seeking  to provide MS patients in the U.S. access to PoNS at a significantly reduced price. That program is expected to run through Dec. 31.

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