I’ve spent the past few weeks figuring out the best way to re-wire my brain and the best way, in my opinion, would be to use the PoNS™ device.
PoNS™ (short for Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator) allows a neural network originating in the tongue to produce a “neural cascade, which flows to the brainstem located in the body’s control center. The tongue’s dense nerve endings make it ideal for stimulation. A compromise to the brain’s neural network reduces its ability to effectively communicate with the body. To restore lost function, the brain’s neural network needs to be “rewired”, as this reestablishes the proper flow of neural impulses to the body. This “rewiring” is called neuroplasticity.“
“The PoNS™ device gently stimulates the surface of the tongue, exciting the neural network flowing to the brain. This neural activity is believed to enable neuroplasticity, which may restore lost function.” ~ ponstreatment.ca
Like electrified Pop Rocks from the ’80s, lingual stimulation goes through Cranial Nerves V (Trigeminal) and VII (Facial) to reach the brain stem before traveling throughout the brain to either activate or reactivate the neurons involved in human function.
Although it’s getting easier to get my hands on a PoNS™ device, it’s not cheap.
For starters, the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) hasn’t cleared the device here in the states. Because Health Canada has, you can go there and participate in a variety of comprehensive 14-week programs combining in-clinic and in-home use of the device along with access to a Certified PoNS™ Trainer.
PoNS Treatment Centers are popping up across Canada. I spoke with the nice folks at Surrey Neuroplasticity Clinic, in Surrey, BC. Right now due to COVID spots are available but eventually, waiting lists will be the norm. If you’re interested in trying out this treatment I would call them sooner rather than later. Besides MS they work with Traumatic Brain Injured and Post-CVA patients. My guess is that Dementia patients will be next.
It costs about $20,000 which doesn’t include travel or the expense to quarantine for 2-weeks prior to being admitted for the in-patient portion of treatment. Once discharged with the device you follow their 3-month at-home rehabilitation program which involves 3 hours of exercises per day, 6 days a week.
Then you send the device back.
Honestly, not being able to keep the device is what I take issue with. In this video, Montel Williams (who has MS) notes that he’s been using the PoNS™ for the past decade. Although ambulatory prior to starting, he had significant balance and mobility issues that have since disappeared. The dude snowboards now which is amazing but I don’t think he re-wired his brain for a mere 14 weeks then hit the slopes.
My guess is that after a decade of using the device he’s created new pathways that:
- Allow him to fire proper muscles in the proper order.
- Dissociate any poor synergistic patterns he created due to having MS.
- Allow him to move in a variety of planes (supine, seated, and standing).
- Allow him to move against gravity.
- Allow him to walk on a variety of surfaces (flat, uneven, hilly, rocky, etc.) in complicated ways (side stepping, walking forward and backward, stepping over obstacles, going up and down steps or curbs, etc.)
- And most importantly, if he had any extreme disuse atrophy, he’s had the time to strengthen muscles that had been dormant for so long.
In other words, he’s done to his brain at mid-life what babies do from birth onward. Even a one-year-old doesn’t take his first step then later that day, jog backward back to his crib. It takes time for young, healthy brains to map out the motor cortex. I’m thinking my mid-life, unhealthy brain would need more than 3 months to get back on-line.
If I knew I would be able to keep the PoNS™ after the 14 weeks I would seriously consider coming up with the cash.
In the meantime, I’ve taken a cue from the Canadians and significantly updated my daily movement protocol. If older brains need 18 hours of exercise each week to re-wire via their treatment programs, I should do the same.
Because of that I created a list of exercises taken from Orlando Neuro-Physical Therapist Dr. Tara Tobias, mixed with tips and techniques I learned from Bianca Eulitz at Be Fit Movement Therapy combined with the slow, deliberate movement techniques taught to me by Hannah Vo-Dinh at MindBodySense. Since putting a 9-Volt battery in my mouth probably isn’t smart (yes I have thought about it – don’t judge me,) I will instead use the Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM) protocol provided to me by Dr. Deb at Frederick Chiropractic Wellness and see if that will jolt my melon a bit to create new neuropathways.
Every day I work for a few hours then tweak the list. I’ll publish it eventually along with videos. Spoiler-Alert: I’ve noticed a major change in balance after only one week of my new program
If you have access to the PoNS™ device or know specifically what someone like Montel does with his, leave me a comment. Same if you’re using FSM along with a Neuro-Modulation protocol.