PoNS therapy helps Ontario woman recover from brain injury

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WATCH: A Durham woman is slowly getting her life back after suffering a brain injury two years ago in a collision with a moose – Oct 15, 2020

A Durham woman is slowly getting her life back after suffering a brain injury two years ago in a collision with a moose.

Elizabeth Carey says she used to struggle to walk her dog but in the last few months, the 32-year-old has started to feel like herself again after starting a new treatment.

Her ordeal started Sept. 30, 2018, at 5:30 a.m. She was on her way to work as a paramedic near Peace River, Alta. — a normal day until her vehicle suddenly struck a moose.

“I banged up my shoulder, I took a hoof print to the shoulder from the moose, she came through the windshield. I was shaken but I walked out and went back to work,” said Carey.

It wasn’t until a few days later when she was home in Beaverton, Ont., for Thanksgiving that Carey realized something wasn’t right.

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“I’m now forgetting deodorant, I don’t remember if I washed my hair or conditioned it, or which order they go in. Every doctor says to you it’s just a concussion,” said Carey.

It was hard on her family, too.

“Elizabeth is a highly energetic, outgoing person, and all of a sudden it was depleting,” said Dawn Graham, Carey’s mom.

After months of trying everything, seeing a number of doctors and having both her parents temporarily quit their jobs, Carey started going to A4A Therapy Clinic in Markham for a 14-week treatment program.

The treatment is called portable neuromodulation stimulation therapy, or PoNS.

“There’s two important nerves that go right from the tongue into the brain stem,” said Dr. Ryan Scott, A4A Therapy clinic director and chiropractor. “The PoNS stimulating the tongue seems to stimulate that area of the brain and then we pair that with physical activity.”

Scott has been using the treatment for the past year and a half. Carey is one of about 30 people he’s treated.

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“I couldn’t turn when I came. We would walk down the end of the track — I couldn’t even turn around properly,” said Carey.

Over the course of about four months, there was noticeable progress.

“Within a very short amount of time her balance was improving, she was walking better,” said Scott.

Graham said “every day” she could see a change in Carey.

“It was marvellous,” she said.

Now, Carey has successfully wrapped up her PoNS treatment and the paramedic has her sights set on getting back to helping save the lives of others.

“Up until the point that I started PoNS treatment, I had no hope of returning to my career,” said Carey.

“It unlocked a lot of doors that were shut for a long time.”

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