The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Top News

February 28, 2013

Can nerve endings in the tongue help us treat traumatic brain injury?

PITTSBURGH — The human tongue is an extraordinary bit of flesh. It's alternately squishy and tense, at times delicate and others powerful. It helps us taste, talk and tie cherry stems, all the while avoiding two interlocking rows of sharpened enamel that know only how to gnash. Now, it seems the tongue may even serve as a gateway to the human brain, providing us with the opportunity to treat serious afflictions from multiple sclerosis to combat-induced brain injuries.

The tongue is a natural candidate for electrical stimulation, thanks in part to a high density of sensory receptors and the concentration of electrolytes found in saliva. This has allowed researchers at the Tactile Communication and Neurorehabilitation Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to develop a pattern of electrodes that can be placed on the tongue and attached to a control box. All together, the system is called a Portable Neuromodulation Stimulator (PoNS).

Once hooked in, patients undergo 20-30 minutes of stimulation therapy, or CN-NiNM (cranial nerve non-invasive neuromodulation), matched to a regimen of physical, occupational and cognitive exercises specific to the ailment being treated. Each exercise corresponds with different patterns of tongue stimulation, which in turn coax the brain to form new neural pathways. These pathways remain active even after the stimulation has been removed, meaning the therapy can have lasting effects.

After treatment with CN-NiNM, patients with multiple sclerosis have been shown to have a 50 percent improvement in postural balance, 55 percent improvement in walking ability, a 30 percent reduction in fatigue and 48 percent reduction in M.S. impact scores (a measure of physical and psychological impact of M.S. from the patient's perspective). Extraordinary numbers by any standard, but if you really want to understand the project's impact, read about Kim Kozelichki ditching her hobbled limp for a healthy jog on the University of Nebraska's Medical Center blog.

Text Only
Top News
  • Screen shot 2014-04-18 at 4.44.15 PM.png Paint, doodle and sketch: 3 apps for art lovers

    In the absence of a palette of watercolors and a sketchpad, these three apps can fill in as your art supplies of choice.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 19, 2014

  • Way of the Cross photo The Way of the Cross By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer The Way of the Cross

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • John Hood A year after 'chaos'

    It happened two hours after John Hood finished his run. Like many, he thought the loud boom was just the sound of cannons going off, something that shook the ground. It was odd, but Hood — a 1989 Clinton High School graduate — tried to make it logical, associating the noise with another good happening at the Boston Marathon.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • AGENDA: 4-22-14 Clinton City Council

    The Clinton City Council will meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. followed by a committee of the whole.

    April 18, 2014

  • Judge asks pointed questions in gay marriage case

    A judge in Colorado who will play a pivotal role deciding whether gays should be allowed to wed in the United States asked pointed questions Thursday about whether Oklahoma can legally ban the unions.

    U.S. Circuit Judge Jerome Holmes is seen as the swing vote on the three-judge panel that heard the Oklahoma appeal and a similar case from Utah last week.

    April 18, 2014

  • NASA's moon-orbiting robot crashes down as planned

    April 18, 2014

  • Eyewitness testimony no longer a gold standard

    The American legal system offers few moments as dramatic as an eyewitness to a crime pointing his finger across a crowded courtroom at a defendant.

    The problem is that decades of studies show eyewitness testimony is only right about half the time — a reality that has prompted a small vanguard of police chiefs, courts and lawmakers to toughen laws governing the handling of eyewitnesses and their accounts of crimes.

    April 18, 2014

AP Video