Annually, over 12 million people are affected by spasticity, whether that be due to cerebral palsy, stroke, spinal cord injuries, acquired brain damage or a motor neuron disorder.
Spasticity presents as involuntary muscle movement due to of a loss of muscle reflex inhibition. Data suggests that 75% of individuals with cerebral palsy, 43% of people experiencing stroke, 66% of people with multiple sclerosis, and 40% of people suffering spinal cord injury experience spasticity.
The condition is commonly managed with medication, surgical intervention and alternative therapies.
Although the management options are varied, many have unpleasant side-effects. For instance, pharmacological options can cause adverse systemic effects such as confusion and dizziness, sleep disturbance, gastrointestinal upset and liver toxicity to name a few.
The most common neurosurgical procedure for spasticity is Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR). However, there are several significant risks and many potential complications in this procedure, including wound infection, sensory loss, and leg and bladder paralysis. Other surgical interventions like serial casting can result in ongoing pain and interferes with skin health.
Alternative therapies often include task-related training and electrical stimulation. While they have been around for many years, only a few are proven to achieve desirable outcomes. They are ongoing for patients and result in steady improvement with little or no side effects.
The literature suggests that low frequency transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is beneficial. An assessment of TENS with other spasticity interventions, proposes that TENS has similar or even better effects than Baclofen, which is a muscle relaxant drug. The same was observed for physical therapies compared with TENS.
The Mollii Suit
A unique rehabilitative device becoming popular among the family of TENS-related products is the Mollii Suit. First developed in Sweden by Inerventions, this assistive device is a garment that provides individually-adapted electrotherapy. The garment consists of a pair of trousers, a jacket and a detachable control unit that sends electrical signals to the user’s nervous system via electrodes embedded inside the garment. The control unit is individually programmed for each user based on their needs and goals.
The Mollii suit has been in use across Europe at various rehabilitation centres since 2012 and was introduced to Australia in 2017, with it gaining traction ever since. Some refer to it as “The Happy Suit” or “The Super Suit”. With no undesirable side effects and used in conjunction with current treatment regimes, there are many benefits, including instant results, prolonged therapeutic residual effects, affordability, and ease of use at home, school or work. Read more about the research here.
The Mollii Suit enables a better quality of life.