GB's Dave Phillips tells us about his experience using Exopulse Mollii Suit, and the impact it's had on his Multiple Sclerosis
One of Great Britain’s para-athletes, Dave Phillips, was on BBC 1 this week to talk all about his experience with the Exopulse Mollii Suit. Dave is an ambassador for the company Ottobock, an Official Supporter in technical services for the Paralympic Games, which they have been doing for more than 30 years. They are also the suppliers of the Exopulse Mollii Suit. Its purpose? To help suffers of spasticity to manage their symptoms.
Dave described the suit to be made of a material much like a wetsuit, only thinner. It’s snug to the body, and electrodes are placed across the suit from the ankles up. A computer programme is used to switch on and switch off certain muscles of the body to target the problem areas.
“You wear it for one hour a day every other day, that’s the recommended. It instantly stopped all the MS spasms I was getting in my right-hand side. My leg was jerking, and it’s stopped that completely. It reduced all the spasticity, so when I wanted to lift my leg, I didn’t have as much resistance and I was able to lift it higher,” Dave said.
The archer from Cwmbran was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) 23 years ago, and has since suffered with fatigue, spasticity and falls due to his condition. Thanks to the support of Dave’s wife, Angie, Dave decided to give archery another go, a sport in which he showed promise in his youth.
After only three years of shooting, Dave became a Paralympian, competing at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio. A few of Dave’s recent achievements include, European Para Championships silver team medal, and World Para Championships silver team medal. Dave has proven himself time and time again to be one of GB’s core para athletes.
Using the suit recently has enabled Dave to take full advantage of his training. He informed us that he can train for longer and harder with reduced fatigue. Not only that, but Dave’s mental health has improved because of the physical improvements the suit has allowed him.
“It’s like having a good bowl of porridge in the mornings. You actually feel as if you’re set for the day. I’m 56 years of age, nearly 57, I have a muscle debilitating, fatiguing condition and I’m able to compete with Olympians and Paralympians at the best.”
The suit was made by Exon Neural Network (ENN) who are based in Sweden. Ottobock acquired this company in 2021 with the intention of bettering the symptoms of central nervous system disorders such as MS, stroke, cerebral palsy and spinal cord injuries. But Dave wanted Ottobock to try to adapt the suit towards archery too. Dave spoke to Archery GB S&C coaches and physiotherapists to understand which muscles are most associated with archery, and then he was able to approach Ottobock with this information.
“I wanted them to be able to turn on and turn off some of the muscles associated with archery. I’m so lucky to be an ambassador for Ottobock. I go to several of their conferences to show off the suit and I feedback to them.”
Dave expressed his thanks to Ottobock for including him in their research and giving him access to the Exopulse Mollii Suit, and he often gives back where he can. Whenever there is a chance to donate his time or support charities, Dave is always putting his name down.
“I can’t say that this suit had made me into Superman, but I really do feel as if it has. I’ve won world silver medals, I was fourth in the world rankings, so I’m flying,” Dave told us.
Ottobock are offering the suit free to some clinics who are then offering free trials to patients following a paid for assessment. The assessment fee varies from clinic to clinic but is around £200. Users then have the option to take the suit on a two week trial at no further cost. For clinics that sell the suits they set their own assessment and rental rates and duration which vary. For more information visit Ottobock's website.