Among Nelson, a Certified PoNS (Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator) Specialist, works with patient Isaac Kohtakangas, who is uses the PoNS device during a rehabilitation session in Calgary at Synaptic, Spinal Cord Injury and Neurological Rehabilitation Centre. Calgary, Alta. on Monday, August 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley

‘I do miss dancing’: Calgary patient sold on tongue-tingler neural therapy

A 38-year-old business intelligence analyst from Calgary has completed 14 weeks of neurological treatment

Isaac Kohtakangas just cleared several hurdles to becoming more self-sufficient as he lives with multiple sclerosis.

The 38-year-old business intelligence analyst from Calgary has completed 14 weeks of neurological treatment at the city’s Synaptic Spinal Cord Injury and Neuro Rehabilitation Centre.

The hurdles were literal — eight green barriers, about 15 centimetres off the ground, that Kohtakangas high stepped over with the use of two poles.

“It’s less about leaning on (them) for support and more about just balancing myself so I’m upright,” he said.

It wasn’t something he could have done before he began therapy in August.

“It’s definitely helped me with balance. I feel more confident and stable on my feet. I’m more aware of where my body is in space when I’m standing and walking, and I’m able to catch myself if I’m a little bit off,” he said.

Navigating life is just simpler, he said. “Getting in and out of the car is easier and being able to lift my legs up over the door edge, getting around in a restaurant … between chairs and in tight spaces.”

A device called PoNS — short for portable neuromodulation stimulator — sits on the surface of the tongue and delivers mild, high-frequency electrical impulses while a patient undergoes an intense regimen of daily physiotherapy. The hope is the tiny tingles lead to neuroplasticity and encourage new neural connections.

Clinics in Surrey, B.C., and in Montreal also offer the therapy.

Kohtakangas was diagnosed in 2011 with the autoimmune disease, which attacks myelin, the protective covering of the nerves, causing inflammation and often damage and disruption of nerve impulses.

He had to complete the last 12 weeks of the program at home, morning and night.

“I do not miss it. I dreaded PoNS for the amount of time that it involved. It was like having homework every day and it was never homework that I could put off until the next day. I had to do it that night. I had to do it in the morning.”

The executive director of Synaptic said Kohtakangas has definitely improved.

“All of the functional measures we used at the beginning and measured through to the end have shown significant clinical improvement, so we’re really excited for him,” said Uyen Nguyel.

“Probably the biggest areas of improvements would be his balance and his co-ordination through his walking — even his walking speed and his endurance.”

Kohtakangas said the therapy isn’t cheap. He had to pay $22,000 out of pocket, but since he no longer drives, he considered the cost the same as if he’d bought a car.

Some of the paces he was put through resembled dance steps.

“I was getting some kidding about that during the therapy,” he laughed.

“I’ve done a little bit at home, some two-stepping a little bit … I do miss dancing and I haven’t done that for quite a while.”

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

City of Lacombe partners with Vesta to support community initiatives

Mayor Creasey yesterday a $20,000 contribution from Vern Crone, production manager for Vesta Energy

Cody Dennis Memorial Game returns to Blackfalds for 16th year

Memorial game raises funds for Blackfalds Minor Hockey

Lacombe’s Cow Patti Theatre, LPAC team up for youth production of ‘Much More Munsch’

Youth ages 8-17 have been rehearsing original play since November

PHOTOS: Lacombe’s Nowco Home Hardware donates to Safe Harbour Society

Two large loads of warm clothing, mitts and McDonald’s gift cards donated

Lacombe County, Summer Village of Gull Lake sign Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework

Agreement specifies what and how services are funded and delivered

VIDEO: Trudeau insists Iran respect families’ wishes when it comes to burials

All 176 people on board the Ukraine International Airlines flight PS752 were killed

Canadian public health agencies ramping up preparations in response to new virus

Health officials have said there are no confirmed cases of the emerging coronavirus in Canada

‘Naughty boy’: Monty Python star Terry Jones dies at 77

The comedian has been suffering from a rare form of dementia

Alberta premier wants federal government to do more about opioid imports

Jason Kenney says Canada should find ways to cut down on drugs being smuggled into the country

Alberta Energy Regulator laying off staff, restructures, deals with budget cuts

Gordon Lambert, interim CEO, says the changes are part of a restructuring

Energy companies owe more than double the tax to Alberta municipalities

Survey says communities are owed $173 million — up 114% since last spring

No gondola from Banff to Mount Norquay, feds say

Parks Canada dismisses proposal for gondola, Grizzly Pavilion and boardwalks

U.S. officials confirm first case of Wuhan coronavirus near Seattle

The U.S. is the fifth country to report seeing the illness

Most Read