Earlier this year, a video that went viral showed the fantastic results of Exopulse Mollii, an electric suit developed by the German company Ottobock. Louisa, a woman with movement problems related to multiple sclerosis, was able to walk without problems thanks to this device.
Louisa was then joined by the twelve-year-old Irish girl Moya-May Kelly, who suffers from cerebral palsy: "this suit has allowed me to become more confident, and to be more independent," she says. "Before I used it I couldn't do what I can do now. It's very important to me."
How does the Exopulse electric suit work?
Exopulse's 58 electrodes deliver mild electrical stimulation to 40 key muscle groups, relaxing them and allowing them to move.
"When you turn it on," he says Fredrick Lundqvist, chiropractor and inventor of Exopulse Mollii, "active electrodes capable of stimulating muscles that the brain cannot reach. Exopulse replaces the signal that the brain can no longer produce due to brain disease or injury."
At its present stage the electric suit is designed to be worn every other day and for no more than an hour, but the results are outstanding.
An easy way to restore mobility
A single button activates the entire device: muscle tension is released, the user regains control of himself and his movements.
"Most patients get an immediate and positive result," he says Mark Jeffery, director of the Surfers Health Medical Center which hosts the power suit trial.
Exopulse is not just for on-demand use: if they get a benefit, patients should continue with this therapy. Neural plasticity could help them develop new pathways that benefit their condition, allowing them to use their device less and less.
The Exopulse jacket and pants are made from breathable, washable synthetic materials that contain no animal products or fibers. According to the inventor, they have no major side effects. The cost? It is currently around 6000 euros, but it is clear that economies of scale can also significantly lower prices during marketing.
The next steps
The studies already carried out revealed that an hour in the Exopulse Mollii power suit helps to reduce pain symptoms to a great extent. And these are not data collected yesterday, but in 8 years: starting from 2014 (on 117 patients) and with another important step in 2018 (on a group of children who wore the suit for 9 hours over 3 weeks).
Still more evidence is needed before the hi-tech suit becomes widely available: results over time are evaluated… only over time.
If we want to prevent an electric suit from causing damage after 10 years of use, we have to wait for someone to use it for 10 years and collect the data. There is no other way.
However, says Lundqvist, Exopulse shows great efficacy, even considering the differences in reaction from individual to individual.
We can't wait for it to be available to everyone.