Using the Cionic Neural Sleeve to Alleviate Gait Dysfunction in Multiple Sclerosis: Douglas A. Wajda, PhD


The assistant professor of neurology at Cleveland State University provided perspective on an early-stage study assessing the impacts of a functional electrical stimulation approach to treat gait problems in multiple sclerosis. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 4 minutes

"The advantage is, we can customize the amount of stimulation that individuals are getting based on the need that they have for their individualized gait impairment. It does that through array-based electrode placement, which allows us to tune the stimulation to specific locations of the leg, providing a more functional setup."

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic, degenerative, and demyelinating disease that remains one of the primary causes of disability in young adults in Europe and North America. Gait is a common symptom of the disease and is considered one of the most challenging to treat according to patients and clinicians. Some clinicians have estimated that 15 years after the diagnosis of the disease, half of the patients will require assistance to walk and 10% will use a wheelchair.

Because of the heterogenous nature of the disease, the gait pattern largely depends on the location of the injuries and degree of damage. It is common to observe a decrease in hip extension during the stance period, a decrease in knee flexion in the swing period, a decrease in ankle dorsiflexion (DF) in the initial contact, and a decrease in ankle plantar flexion during the pre-swing phase. There have been several proposed strategies to treat gait, including functional electrical stimulation (FES); however, it is commonly limited to stimulating only 1 muscle group.

At the 2024 Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers (CMSC) Annual Meeting, held May 29-June 2, in Nashville, Tennessee, researchers presented a pilot study evaluating the efficacy of the Cionic Neural Sleeve to address foot drop and inversion/eversion in patients with MS. Led by Douglas A. Wajda, PhD, the study included 8 individuals (aged 60.4 [±6.9] years) who completed walking trials at a “normal comfortable pace” with and without stimulation while wearing the sleeve on the most impacted leg. On average, participants exhibited –9.9 (±3.3) of DF at heel strike and 11.8 (±7.1) of inversion during swing for the unstimulated walking condition. During the stimulated walking condition, DF values significantly increased (P <.001) by an average of 8.2 (±3.7) and inversion was significantly reduced (P = .013) by 5.7 (±4.9).

Wajda, an assistant professor of neurology at Cleveland State University, sat down with NeurologyLive® at the meeting to discuss the functionality of the sleeve, and some of the potential benefits it brings to patients with MS. In addition, he spoke on the data presented, some of the greatest takeaways, and the reasons for assessing foot drop and inversion/eversion in this patient population.

Click here for more coverage of CMSC 2024.

1. Wajda DA, Webster R. Impact of the Cionic Neural Sleeve on ankle kinematics during gait in multiple sclerosis. Presented at: 2024 CMSC Annual Meeting; May 29-June 2; Nashville, TN. SYM01.

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