The painful and crippling muscle spasms caused by brain injuries or neurological disorders are typically controlled using medication or even surgery. Soon, however, it may be possible for sufferers to get their muscles under control just by wearing what looks like a high-tech union suit. Known as the Mollii garment, it reportedly produces no side effects, and doesn't have to be worn all the time.
The suit was invented by chiropractor Fredrik Lundqvist, and created by Johan Gawell and Jonas Wistrand at Sweden's KTH Royal Institute of Technology.
It incorporates a battery-operated waistband-mounted control unit, from which silver wires run to 58 electrodes embedded within its swimsuit-like material. Those electrodes deliver electrical stimulation to as many as 42 muscles, depending on the case. The therapy it delivers is similar to existing TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) treatments, except that where TENS is conducted on an immobile patient at a clinic, Mollii can be worn at home while the user is performing other activities.
According to Lundqvist, wearing the suit for a few hours at a time, three times a week, should provide up to two days of at least partial relief from spasms and tension. The idea is that users might wear it for a while before heading out to school, work, social events or other situations in which they wish to be as un-afflicted as possible.
It has been tested at Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute, where apparently all of the participants stated that they had "experienced improvements in existing function or quality of life."
Mollii is currently available by prescription through the Swedish health care system and directly from the KTH spin-off company Inerventions, established to commercialize the technology. It's priced at €5,600 (US$7,574).
Launches in the US, Europe and Japan are hoped to take place soon.