BY FRANDS HAVALESCHKA
An exciting study to analyze the effect of the so-called Mollii suit is currently ongoing at Hvidovre Hospital’s orthopedic surgery department. It is the Swedish chiropractor Fredrik Lundqvist, who through his work and experiences with patients with neurological disorders, got the idea to develop the suit.
It is a unique designed, full-body suit made of elastic material and a detachable control unit on the front of the suit. The control unit sends low frequent electrical signals to the user via electrodes embedded on the inside of the garment. The suit is individually programmed according to the specific needs of the person.
The suit, shown by orthopedic surgeon Christian Wong and project employee Josephine Michelsen here, is made of nylon and spandex, and on the inside small silicone patches are embedded. The pulses come from re AAA batteries.
Prevents unwanted muscle tension
According to the product specifics Mollii can prevent and counteract various forms of unwanted muscle tension, muscle shortening and stiffness and can help the user to gain better control over voluntary movements.
And does it do so? This is under investigation by a number of professionals at Hvidovre Hospital. Since 2018 the project group has been conducting examinations on 31 young people with CP of varying degrees on the GMFCS scale, levels 3, 4 and 5. These children and young people are from Geelsgårdskolen, Kirkebækskolen and Skolen Ved Skoven. In a later addition to the study the effect on 30 children and adolescents of the GMFCS category 1-2 is also being examined.
The people who participate in the project undergo a six-month intervention period. They use the Mollii suit for one hour, every other day, while they are doing other activities. It can be a bit difficult to put on, but once it is on most of the users experience a supportive and pain-relieving effect.
Throughout the period the children were examined at their school. The examinations were carried out at three time points. Before they were using the suit, after using the suit for four weeks and finally after the project period ended after 24 weeks.
To see if Mollii had an effect on the joint mobility and the tight muscles, which are often characteristics of children with cerebral palsy, a physical examination was performed at each time point by physiotherapist Tina Torabi and research assistant Kristian Mortensen from Hvidovre Hospital.
At the same time, parents were asked to continuously fill out a diary (before treatment and after 4, 8 and 24 weeks, respectively) about the child’s sleep, bowel function and the degree of pain, which is a wide problem for many children with CP.
– Some parents experienced that the suit also had a positive effect on the children’s bowel function and that their children were more tired after using the suit, says orthopedic surgeon Christian Wong from Hvidovre Hospital, who points out that it is too early to say that the results from the research show the same.
– The parents and staff at the school also reported that the children got more calm, had less bodily anxiety when wearing the suit, and therefore could be more present in the class. However, it is not something that we had the opportunity to measure, emphasizes Christian Wong.
Individual testing with individual goals
When the pediatric section of the Orthopedic Surgery Department in Hvidovre make a plan for treatment and training for a child with CP, they are very keen on that the effort should be meaningful for the individual child. Occupational therapists and physical therapists from the schools therefore set personal goals for the students’ desired improvements with the suit.
This can be, for example, less drooling, better walking, standing or a better hand function which can help the child improve in his or her own eating or drinking habits or help the child in controlling their speech.
– The study is not yet complete, but preliminary results have shown that the goals were achieved by most participants, and in general we have found that the test subjects have had less spasticity in the arms and legs and thus an improved function of everyday activities. Thus, the muscles have become less tight after using the suit, says Christian Wong.
Christian Wong states that the research group is currently doing the same examinations in children with GMFCS 1-2, – children with independent walking function.
– So far, 15 children have been through the test and we are still missing 15 children who will be examined by our new employee Torben Petersen. The children will, unlike the early group, also have a gait analysis performed before and after the intervention as well as a measurement of their spasticity in the hand through a so-called neuro fexor, a recently developed spasticity measuring device.
At Hvidovre Hospital, all investigations are expected to be completed by the summer of 2020.
Cecilie tried her very own suit at Hvidovre Hospital in connection with a preliminary examination for her participation in the Mollii project.
How did you get the idea?
When I worked as a personal assistant during my studies, and later through working as a chiropractor for people with neurological disabilities. In 2009, I got the idea of triggering the so-called pathological reactions by means of electrical and vibrational stimulation.
When did the suit come to market?
Mollii, which I initially called Elektrodress, was CE-marked in December 2012 and launched on the European market in 2013.
The suit has 48 hours lingering effect after use. Does it also have a long-term effect?
If Mollii is combined with intensive physical therapy and other training, the user can aquire skills and functions that they did not have before initiating their training regime, and with continued training these skills can become permanent.
Right now, several clinical trials are ongoing, such as at Karolinska and Hvidovre Hospital, what do they show?
Over the past five years, we have discovered positive side effects, including reduced pain, which we have begun to take a closer look at. Thus, in Australia, a study of nearly 200 people with chronic pain has been conducted to get an indication of whether Mollii can help reduce pain. I am eagerly awaiting the results from Hvidovre Hospital, and just now, a joint study in Beirut and Paris is starting with Mollii, which includes 30 people.
Briefly about Mollii: Mollii is a wearable assistive device that is adjusted to the individual’s needs. Mollii relieves symptoms resulting from a neurological disease or brain injury. With its pain-relieving effect, the suit can also be used in the rehabilitation of chronic pain. Mollii is used by both children and adults with cerebral palsy, stroke, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, acquired brain injury, dystonia, etc. The suit is produced by Inerventions AB and is widely used in Sweden, France and Australia. You can read more at the manufacturer mollii.com
Briefly about the research group behind the study: Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery Research Unit (BOF) is a small research group under the pediatric section, Orthopedic Surgery Department at Hvidovre Hospital. The group consists of research conductor Christian Wong and two full-time employees, Josephine Michelsen and Torben Petersen, as well as the students who are constantly doing projects in the group. The main purpose of the research group is to investigate surgical procedures and other treatments that can improve the daily life and quality of life of children with CP. You can follow the group’s projects on their Facebook page: BOF – Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery Research Unit.
CP INDBLIK 1 2020