Army Funded Oral Device May Help Brain Injury Patients Regain Function

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We tend to take our tongues for granted. Without them we couldn’t eat, drink, taste, or even communicate. It also serves as a direct connection to the brain thanks to thousands of nerve endings.

The U.S. Army Medical Research and Material Command, working with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and NeuroHabilitation Corporation, are hoping to use those nerve endings to restore lost physical and mental function for those dealing with traumatic brain injury, or other brain disorders.

The researchers have created a device which sends specially-patterned nerve impulses to a patient’s brain, according to an Army press release. The device, called a PoNS, would be used in 20-30 minute simulation therapy sessions, along with custom physical, occupational, and cognitive exercises fitting the patient’s own difficulties.

The preliminary testing for the device seems to be going well. Research shows possible treatment options for a number of mental issues including TBI, Parkinson’s, or multiple sclerosis. It also shows signs of not only slowing the loss of cognitive and physical functioning for patient’s but may be able to actively restore lost functioning.

As with all new devices, this tool will have to be thoroughly tested before we can expect to see it in the market, but seems to offer a practical, non-invasive way for brain injury patients to work towards regaining normalcy.

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