Helius provides PoNS device training to physical therapists

CSM meeting attendees will learn how PoNS may help patients with impaired gait

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by Mary Chapman |

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A person is seen walking along a decorated wall in this illustration.

Helius Medical Technologies will showcase its noninvasive Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator (PoNS) device and provide training to physical therapists who are interested in using the device for the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The company will explain the benefits of PoNS therapy at the American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections Meeting (CSM), the nation’s largest annual gathering of rehabilitation therapists taking place Feb. 23-25 in San Diego, California.

“All conferences and professional meetings offer attendees the opportunity to expand their knowledge,” Dane Andreeff, Helius president and CEO, said in a press release. “Those who visit CSM booth 1101 can go beyond learning and actually do something that lets them leave the conference with a tangible skillset to add to their therapeutic toolbox.”

The medical device, to be used in conjunction with exercise for 14 weeks, is designed to improve walking ability in MS patients with impaired gait. It’s approved in the U.S. for people 22 and older who have mild-to-moderate symptoms. It’s also similarly offered in Canada and Australia as a short-term MS therapy for walking difficulties in adults.

The PoNS device is a mouthpiece that is connected by a cord to a controller worn around the neck. The mouthpiece, when placed on the tongue, emits mild electrical signals that travel to the brain via two cranial nerves that run through the tongue.

Such electrical signals are thought to foster neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to change and adapt — or “rewire” — due to new experiences. The belief is that heightening neuroplasticity could augment the benefits of physical rehabilitation for MS patients with walking issues.

The free, 90-minute PoNS training session will be held at 5 p.m. PDT Feb. 24 at booth 1101 on the exhibit floor. It will be led by Whitney Patrickson, Helius’ director of physical therapy, who will teach participants how to use the device and accompanying software.

Patrickson also will offer the occupational therapists, physiatrists, and physical therapists insights on how to use their individual expertise to optimize the device’s effectiveness, establish personalized exercise regimens, and supervise patients during the required 14 weeks of treatments.

Therapists must register at the booth or online. Attendance is limited to the first 30 individuals who sign up. Following the training event, therapists will be registered PoNS instructors, a requirement for treating patients. Such training usually takes place online.

“We’re particularly thrilled to be at this year’s CSM. It’s the first time since we entered the market nine months ago that we have the opportunity to interact face-to-face with physical rehabilitation therapists, sharing scientific information and answering questions on the therapeutic benefits of treating MS patients with PoNS,” Andreeff said.

“In addition, offering on-site PoNS therapy training to CSM attendees empowers them to go back home with the skillset to treat their patients with an innovative therapy, surely an added value from a patient’s perspective,” he added.

A Helius Patient Therapy Access Program, which provides MS patients in the U.S. access to PoNS at a markedly lower price, has been extended through June.