Eight Hunter residents are among the first people in Australia to try a revolutionary piece of technology that could help improve quality of life for people with a range of health conditions.
The Swedish-designed Mollii Suit has been imported to Australia by Cessnock-based company Métier Medical.
The suit is a neuro-rehabilitation device that is designed to assist people with spasticity, motor disability, and increased or decreased muscular tension.
While the evidence base is still developing, a small number of studies to date have shown the device could be an effective option for people with such conditions.
Cairns-based occupational therapist Greg Donelly has come on board with Métier Medical to help roll out the trial across Australia.
He said the results were like nothing he’d seen in his 20 years as an occupational therapist.
“It’s one remarkable story after another,” he said.
The Mollii Suit uses electrodes to stimulate movement and relax the muscles, and can be tailored to each person’s needs.
Five people trialled the suit in Cessnock on Thursday and another three at Edgeworth on Friday.
The Hunter clients had a range of conditions including head injuries, spinal injuries, chronic back pain, multiple sclerosis and spina bifida.
Most experienced major changes by wearing the suit.
One of the patients at Cessnock, Callan, has numerous health conditions resulting from a serious car accident seven years ago.
After an hour in the suit his movement and balance had significantly improved.
“With Callan, everything we set out to do, we did,” Mr Donelly said.
“People with head injuries often can’t stand still – he could stand still, his movements and balance all improved 300 percent.”
He said another man who was paraplegic could feel sensation through his body for the first time, while a woman who had experienced chronic pain for years was “completely pain-free” after an hour in the suit.
The suit is designed to be worn for an hour a day, every second day, with residual effects.
Mr Donelly said while he can believe the technology exists, he is in awe of the way people have responded.
“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen – people are having responses in one hour that would take six-to-12 months to get,” he said.
Mr Donelly said the Mollii Suit could help thousands of people – if not hundreds of thousands – to improve their quality of life or general wellbeing.
Each suit costs about $15,000, and Métier Medical has applied to the National Disability Insurance Scheme to have the suit included on the scheme.
Formerly known as the Eletkrodress, the Mollii Suit was developed by Swedish company Inerventions.
Métier Medical is excited to bring the device to Australia.
“It’s pretty revolutionary,” operations and marketing director Jan Wayland said.
Thursday’s trial was held at Total Fitness Cessnock. The gym’s owner Brett Rohr is Métier Medical’s head of shareholders, and many of the company’s shareholders live in the Hunter Valley.
Métier Medical has the exclusive distribution rights in Australia for the Mollii Suit, as well as the Droplet insulin pen needle and Instavit vitamin supplements, and has developed the award-winning safety needle device Safe-T-Clip.
The company has branched out to the United States, Europe and China.
“As a local business, we’re breaking some ground,” Ms Wayland said.