Montreal clinic's tongue tickler approved by Health Canada to treat brain injuries
Health Canada has approved a tongue stimulator used during physiotherapy for some neurological conditions.
The Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator (PoNS) device has helped people who have suffered a brain injury to improve their gait and balance.
Neurotherapy Montreal is the first clinic in Canada to be licensed as a PoNS treatment centre.
“We don't want to call it a miracle, certainly. We find that it’s encouraging,” said Dr. Alain Ptito of the Montreal Neurological Institute. “75 per cent of the subjects responded positively with the high stimulation.”
Ptito said patients receive daily sessions of PoNS device in tandem with intensive physiotherapy to stimulate neuroplasticity.
“We want to stimulate the brain, stimulate plasticity,” said Ptito.
Placed in a patient's mouth, the 143 electrodes on the PoNS device feel like champagne bubbles on the tongue.
“The tongue sends information to the brain through the fifth and seventh cranial nerve, so the information arrives at the brain stem, the brain stem has a diffuse effect, connection through the whole brain,” he said.
The PoNS treatment is not yet covered by insurance plans and costs $30,000, but the clinic has already received hundreds of calls for assessments.
The clinic says it is working to make it more accessible, and more clinical studies are underway..