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The electric 'onesie' that promises to beat the aches and pains dogging your health

Thursday 28 November 2013


From the UK's Daily Mail:


Mollii Suit

The electric 'onesie' that promises to beat the aches and pains dogging your health

PUBLISHED: 22:20 GMT, 25 November 2013
UPDATED: 22:20 GMT, 25 November 2013

A high-tech suit that fires mild electric currents into the body could banish severe muscle pain.

The all-in-one, tight-fitting suit is packed with 58 electrodes that emit a gentle current.

As the current passes through the skin, it prompts muscles to relax, easing painful spasms that can strike out of the blue in conditions such as stroke, multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy as a result of nerve damage to the muscles (250,000 people in Britain are affected by these conditions).

It's also hoped that the suit could eventually help thousands more with chronic conditions such as fibro-myalgia, which causes muscle pain.

Current treatments for painful spasms – spasticity – include physiotherapy, to stretch and strengthen the muscles, or powerful muscle-relaxant drugs to stop the body seizing up.

Although drug treatments can be effective, some work for only a few hours at a time and others, such as diazepam, can be addictive.

Some patients respond well to other techniques, such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS. This is where electrodes are placed on the skin over the affected area and a gentle current passed through the muscles to stop pain signals reaching the brain. But this can target only one small area at a time.

The suit – called Mollii – can work on all major muscle groups simultaneously. Made from the same material used in swimwear, it is powered by a battery that is connected to electrodes covering the neck, arms, trunk, thighs and calves.

Once the patient has put the suit on, they press a button that sends a mild electric current through ultra-thin wiring sewn into the fabric to the electrodes, which are pressed tightly against the skin.

The mild current appears to work by reducing muscle tone, or tightness, in muscle groups prone to agonising spasms.

The idea is that the patient wears the suit at home during everyday activities such as cleaning, cooking or relaxing in front of the TV.

The suit was tested at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm on 117 patients with spasticity. Wearing the suit three to four times a week (for 90 minutes a time) reduced muscle spasms by 60 per cent and improved movement and flexibility by a similar amount.

A quarter of those studied were even able to stop using wheelchairs or walking aids after using the suit.

However, these findings come from research carried out by Inerventions, the Swedish firm that has developed the suit, and have not yet been published in a medical journal.

The suit, which costs around £5,000, has been cleared for use as a medical device in the European Union. It has yet to be launched in Britain.

Commenting on the device, Ed Holloway, head of care and services research at the MS Society, said: 'Many people with MS experience pain and spasticity and though there is a range of treatment options, these can often be difficult symptoms to manage.

'This is an interesting study, but it involved only a small number of people. It is far too early to tell if this is an effective treatment.'


Meanwhile, a new U.S. study suggests that people with fibromyalgia process pain differently, because of disruptions to brain signals.

Researchers scanned the brains of fibromyalgia sufferers and a control group, examining the ventral tegmental area, a region of the brain responsible for reward and punishment.

They found the fibromyalgia group showed less activation in this area.

'These observations may contribute to explain the heightened sensitivity to pain, as well as the lack of effectiveness of pain medications such as opioids, observed in these patients,' said lead author Dr Marco Loggia, from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

The above, with comments, originally appeared here.

More information about the Mollii suit can be found here.


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