Falls, car accidents, sports injuries or concussive forces, like those experienced by military personnel in training exercises or active combat.

These are a few of the many causes of mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury (mmTBI). However, the personal consequences are far-reaching and each individual experience is unique.

In this overview, our goal is to provide you with a better understanding of mmTBI and an innovative new treatment for treating the gait and balance issues that stem from these injuries.

What is mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury?

A traumatic brain injury (TBI) is when your brain is injured due to a blow to the head. Traumatic brain injuries are classified as severe, moderate or mild based on the degree to which the patient is experiencing symptoms.

For the purpose of this article, we’re focusing on mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injuries (mmTBI). One type of mmTBI you’re likely familiar with is a concussion.

What are the symptoms of mmTBI?

Common symptoms of mmTBI (and long-term effects of concussion) include fatigue, headaches, visual disturbances, memory loss, poor concentration, loss of balance, sleep problems, emotional disturbances, depression, sensory issues and seizures.

While the knowledge and understanding of brain injuries are growing and advancing, mmTBI symptoms are often missed or not connected to brain injury by patients, family members, friends and even medical professionals. There are often delays in the onset of symptoms and, many times, MRIs and CAT scans are normal. But the symptoms persist.

When diagnosed, groupings of mmTBI symptoms may be referred to as post-concussive syndrome. The long-term consequences can be devastating.

How many Canadians are affected by mmTBI?

Millions of Canadians live with TBI. In fact, one-third of all Canadians have been or will be impacted by an acquired brain injury. If this seems like a large number it is. The incidence of acquired brain injury is far greater than multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, spinal cord injuries and breast cancer combined.

How does mmTBI affect gait and balance?

Between 30% and 65% of people with TBI experience balance and gait problems. This could be dizziness (lightheadedness and vertigo), disequilibrium (lack of balance) or imbalance.

Researchers have also found that people with a history of concussion walk more cautiously than those without a concussion. They walk more slowly and spend more time on two legs as opposed to balancing between legs.

What are the treatments for mmTBI gait and balance issues?

The existing pantheon of treatments for mmTBI includes medication and physiotherapy. There are also specialized treatments like vestibular rehabilitation (an exercise-based program to improve balance and reduce dizziness) and gait training (mobility training).

Are there any new advances for treating mmTBI gait and balance issues?

As the awareness of TBI has grown, so has the study of how to treat the symptoms. One of the most revolutionary schools of thought that’s evolved is neuroplasticity — the study of how to stimulate and retrain the brain to help it form new connections.

PoNS (Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator) Treatment™ is an intensive, customized state-of-the-art neurological rehabilitation plan. Built on science and research, PoNS™ Treatment, used in conjunction with physical therapy, is proven to help people with chronic balance deficits caused by mild-to-moderate traumatic brain injury (mmTBI).

Has the PoNS Treatment™ gone through any clinical trials?

This non-invasive treatment was proven in clinical trials (one five-week and one 14-week treatment trial) to help a majority of study participants restore balance to the normal range.

For most patients, this balance improvement persisted during a predefined 12-week follow-up period after discontinuation of treatment, suggesting a permanent change to their balance deficit. (Read more about the science behind PoNS™)

Is the PoNS Treatment™ approved by Health Canada?

In Canada, the PoNS™ device is indicated for the treatment of chronic balance deficit in patients with mmTBI as used in conjunction with physical therapy.

Where is PoNS Treatment™ offered in Canada?

PoNS Treatment™ is offered exclusively at Heuro Canada (Heuro) Clinics. At the writing of this article, there’s a clinic in Montreal, Quebec, and Surrey, British Columbia. A clinic in Toronto, Ontario, is coming soon.

How do I get started?

In order to qualify for Heuro PoNS Treatment™, you’ll need a referral from your doctor. Once you have your referral, you can contact the nearest Heuro Clinic to set up a 15-minute consultation. From there, you’ll work with your clinic to coordinate when treatment begins.

Is financial assistance available?

Financing is available to help you access the Heuro Program featuring PoNS Treatment™. Inquire at your chosen Clinic to begin exploring your financing options.

Who is Heuro?

Heuro Canada Inc. is a leading provider of innovative and transformative neurological health assessment and treatment technologies and solutions. With the PoNS Treatment™, Heuro is championing a new paradigm for restoring their livelihood of individuals with mmTBI experiencing persistent gait and balance deficits.
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