Often it is the seemingly little things that can motivate patients in rehabilitation.
For example, we have been working with a lady with secondary progressive MS who came to us three years ago with one-sided walking and arm movement difficulties. She arrived at the first appointment and told us“I want to be able to put my hair up myself”.
Being able to independently complete this daily task was hugely important – and motivational – to her.
It set us the challenge, alongside improving her walking, of getting the range of movement back into her arm.
When she left that first meeting, after an hour of wearing the Mollii Suit, she was able to put her hair up; and the effect remained for a number of hours after using it. There were also significant improvements to her walking.
Three years on, tasks such as getting in and out of cars are becoming harder. But she tells us that using the suit, alongside FES treatment and physio, has enabled her to keep her mobility at the highest level possible given the stage of her condition.
Mollii Suit helps to improve movement and muscle control rapidly in people with spasticity, motor and movement disorders or abnormal muscle tone.
Users include people with cerebral palsy, stroke, MS and brain and spinal cord injuries, and the device can be used at any age over three.
The suit stimulates the antagonist to the spastic muscle with low-level electric current. It is designed to trigger reciprocal inhibition, the body’s own reflex, to reduce the tension in the spastic muscle and to help activation of voluntary movement.
The immediate effect of each 60 minute session lasts for up to 48 hours, so many users wear the suit every other day, or every day with a few conditions.
Using the suit regularly makes exercise or therapy more successful, encouraging the neuroplasticity that leads to long term improvements and changes to motor function.
The device also reduces certain types of pain and improves sleep patterns. As shown in the earlier MS case, Mollii Suit’s effect translates into the recovery of those daily tasks which collectively make for a more independent life.
For one client with an incomplete spinal cord injury, these tasks included being able to answer the house phone before it stopped ringing.
Her injury, caused by an abscess, had led to pain, spasms and lost mobility.
She’d lost dexterity and fine motor skills and had balance problems, all of which severely reduced her abilities and quality of life. In her first session she was able to walk a short distance without crutches, in an almost biblical moment for her.
She also showed significantly improved dexterity outcomes. These results and the reduced pain and spasms remained for over 24 hours after just the first session.
And, within a few weeks of using the suit at home, she told us that there were no more missed calls. If the phone rang across the other side of the kitchen, she could now spring up and answer it in good time.
Others with spinal cord injury or brain injuries also regularly benefit from both reduced spasms and spasticity as well as the functional improvements to allow rehabilitation to progress as well as just comfort, sleep and well-being.
Similarly positive results were seen in the case of a 40-year-old man with primary progressive MS with ataxia (a lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movement). Despite intense therapy in the community and in hospital, he was gradually losing his ability to stand and walk.
His ataxia was severe and therefore meant a lot of uncontrolled dangerous movements.
He was not able to drink or feed himself, or look after himself. To transfer from bed to chair he had to be hoisted and couldn’t undergo a standing transfer.
After the first hour of using the Mollii Suit, he could be transferred by two people without a hoist. To the clinicians watching, that was pretty remarkable.
But the acid test came during three months of regular use. Among many positive outcomes, he was able to walk up to 100 metres with a walking frame and some assistance, after a smooth transfer.
Perhaps more significantly to him, however, he was able to throw a ball to his young son and interact with him safely for the first time.
Due to its significance this case was presented at a recent international neurology conference. In all the cases set out here, using Mollii Suit has been built around a clear understanding of the individual’s situation and their very specific needs.
Of course, objective medical outcomes drive our treatment programme. But of huge importance to the patient is being able to do those personal things in life like putting your hair up, chatting to loved ones on the phone and playing with your children.
Richard Welch is director of Remotion, Mollii Suit’s UK distributor. To access Mollii Suit in the UK visit www.remotion.co.uk or contact Mollii@remotion.co.uk.