Healing a brain injury is difficult and sometimes impossible. Researchers are always looking for new methods as we learn more about how the brain works.
One device that has shown promise after a traumatic brain injury is known as a PoNS, or Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator. It goes on your tongue, and it serves as an electrical stimulation device.
While it is in place, you are encouraged to engage in another type of therapy, such as cognitive therapy or physical therapy. It can also be used for occupational therapy. The PoNS then sets off an electrical signal during therapy. That signal can help to build new neural pathways. It can also enhance neuroplasticity and help to “activate” your brain.
Neurons sometimes die during brain injuries. Those that survive may be damaged, causing them to misfire. These “noisy signals” then disrupt the way your brain works and the pathways it can use.
The tongue is very close to the brain stem — just 4 centimeters away — and has many nerve endings. These have been described as a “gateway to the brain stem.” When they experience electrical stimulation while you are engaging in therapy, it can help to open up new or dormant circuits in your brain. It may also re-synchronize paths that are not working properly. This helps your brain use these new paths, and skills can be developed from there.
The PoNS device is still being developed and is only being tested right now. However, if you are interested in exploring all treatment options after a TBI, you need to know all of the rights you may have to financial compensation for the costs.