Saturday, May 30, 2015

PoNS Inspired Therapy Update

Rebecca Dutton
Home After a Stroke
May 17, 2015

This is an update to my post PoNS Inspired Therapy. I am thrilled to feel changes since I started in March to gently brush my tongue with a soft toothbrush. Instead of feeling numb, the hemiplegic (paralyzed) side of my tongue feels slightly irritable and brushing now produces a small amount of saliva. The sound side of my tongue feels less hypersensitive. I am blown away by the fact that neuroplasticity is still present eleven years after my stroke.

Brief tongue brushing does not replicate the several minutes of electrical tongue stimulation the PoNS device provides so I started singing before I take my pills to wake up my tongue even more. I enjoy accompanying myself on an electric piano. I use my sound hand to play the high notes in the treble clef. My voice sounds terrible, but I enjoy using the musical phrasing I learned as a child - singing softer or louder, slower or faster - to convey the emotional message of a song. My beloved Actto bookrest holds my music.

Last week I spontaneously started putting food on the sound side of my mouth, biting off a tiny fragment, and using my tongue to push the food to the hemiplegic side to chew. This exquisitely delicate tongue control reminded me of the early days after my stroke when food got caught on the hemiplegic side of my mouth. To know if a lump of food was stuck between my teeth and cheek, my sound hand had to touch my cheek. I had no control over the right side of my tongue so I had to use my finger to pull the food back to my sound side. Yuk!

Chewing on my hemiplegic side addresses a long-term hope. After chewing, the hemiplegic side of my tongue gets lots of practice pushing food to the back of my throat which initiates the swallowing reflex. I hope this will improve my ability to swallow pills.

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