Continuing with our series of blog posts on treating patients with neurological conditions, let’s consider how the NeuFit® Method can help restore function and ease symptoms for people with multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury or stroke, spinal cord injury, and neuropathy. We are privileged to share the experiences of some of our patients too.
Though the NeuFit Method doesn’t treat the underlying auto- immune disorders that lead to MS, it can help restore function and improve quality of life by reducing spasms, providing neuromuscular re-education, increasing range of motion, improving circulation, and preventing (or even reversing) atrophy in patients with multiple sclerosis.
Combining the electrical stimulation of the Neubie® device with strategic movement exercises has been a treatment for multiple sclerosis that has helped our patients improve function, increase mobility, and return to activities that were challenging or impossible before treatment.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
For patients who’ve experienced a traumatic brain injury, neurological stimulation therapy can facilitate recovery and help restore overall brain function. One patient’s experience, as described by her partner is a case in point:
“After falling off a ladder and hitting her head on a concrete floor, (my partner) was in a coma for a few weeks. She spent the next seven years in rehab—and was continually frustrated because it didn’t really help. Despite all that therapy, she still couldn’t do things like feed herself, take a bath or get dressed.”
“Things changed when she started working with NeuFit. Within six months, her balance improved so much that her doctors lowered her risk of falling from severe to moderate. The time it took her to walk from the parking lot to the clinic went from eight minutes to four. She can now stand without support. And her speech has improved, too.”
Though it’s unlikely that she’ll regain full function, our patient continues to make headway: “Her quality of life has gone up more over the past six months than in the past seven years,” her partner added. Over time, her small victories have added up to meaningful progress.
Besides helping people with traumatic brain injuries, the NeuFit treatment approach can also help restore function in patients who’ve suffered a stroke.
James, who had a stroke in his late forties and lost function in a few areas on his right side, is a prime example of someone who responded well to neurological stimulation treatments:
“When I started treatment, I was in a wheelchair. I couldn’t open my hand or straighten my arm. My speech was severely impaired, too.
“At NeuFit, they started off by working muscles in the spots where I’d lost function. Since I was having issues with my hand, they stimulated areas in my arm and shoulder.
“After a few months, I recovered the ability to open and close my hand on command. I could even give a thumbs up! I also got back 80 percent of my speech. After a few more months, I learned to walk again, and I even got rid of my wheelchair.”
Eventually, we expect James to be fully functional on his right side again. As amazing as his progress has been, it’s important to keep in mind that our ability to help patients recovering from stroke also depends on the location and severity of the brain injury. If a stroke affects multiple or large areas of the brain, or causes parts of the brain to die, then restoring functionality is more difficult—but not necessarily impossible.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Similar to other injury patients, people with spinal cord injuries often experience movement deficits due to two factors: 1) the trauma of the original injury and 2) learned disuse.
Working at the level of the brain and nervous system, the NeuFit approach to rehab takes both factors into account.
Matt’s experience is a good example of how our treatment methods can help people with spinal cord injuries:
“When I was twenty, I fell off an ATV and fractured my thoracic spine. After that, I was partially paralyzed from the waist down.
“Before I started therapy at NeuFit, I spent three years doing regular functional electrical stimulation (FES) rehab (a popular treatment for spinal cord injuries).
“As long as I was hooked up to the FES machine, I could activate some of my muscles. But I still couldn’t lift my leg, and as soon as they turned off the machine, I couldn’t use my legs anymore.”
Unlike the FES machine, the Neubie electrical stimulation device is designed to create neurological inputs that help people learn to initiate movement on their own. This is exactly what happened to Matt during his first session: “As they were scanning my body, I was able to lift my leg for the first time in ten years.”
Instead of contracting the muscle for him, as with FES therapy, the Neubie device tapped into his dormant neurological capacity to trigger a reflexive response. From that point on, his treatment took an upward trajectory. Besides regaining function and mobility, Matt also recovered the ability to walk again with support.
Neuropathy—dysfunction or damage to the peripheral nerves—is similar to spinal cord injuries in that it can cause numbness, pain, tingling, and weakness. The difference is that neuropathy usually involves nerves in the extremities, especially the feet and hands.
Neuropathy can be one of the unfortunate side effects of chemotherapy and diabetes, though it sometimes shows up in people without cancer or diabetes due to infections, other diseases, or traumatic injuries. Anything that physically or chemically damages nerves can lead to neuropathy.
When treating neuropathy, the NeuFit approach focuses on helping the nerves heal and repair themselves to whatever degree the patient’s body is capable. Ray’s is one experience that demonstrates how effective this approach can be. Though he didn’t have cancer or diabetes, he developed neuropathy when he reached his eighties:
“Because my feet were so numb, I had trouble moving around and keeping my balance. I needed two canes to walk. And even then, it was hard for me to walk more than ten feet.
“When I went to the NeuFit clinic, they treated me with foot- baths. After about six treatments, I was walking around the block—and after a couple more treatments, I didn’t need my canes anymore!”
How did this happen? Stimulating Ray’s feet with electrodes under water allowed the current to disperse throughout the feet. This had a profound re-education effect, though it’s difficult to know how much of the improvement was functional and how much was actually due to structural healing in the nerves themselves. In any case, the treatments cleared the path for the nerve signals to travel from his feet to his spine, which allowed his brain to more clearly perceive where his feet were.
Not all neuropathy-related treatments produce results as quickly as Ray’s. However, by providing the right amount and type of neurological stimulation, we have the potential to help people recover function faster and to a greater degree than other conventional treatment methods.
The examples above demonstrate the potential of the NeuFit Method and the Neubie device to help patients dealing with neurological injuries and diseases. However, as is always the case with rehab, every patient responds differently to treatment. With some patients, the results are immediately apparent. With others, it can be more difficult to gauge whether treatment is working, how effective it is, and how effective it will be over time.
Let’s charge forward to better outcomes together!