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Endgadget 07/10/2017

Can tech replace painkillers?

A Drug-Free Answer To Pain

Jennifer Kain Kilgore was 17 when she had her first car accident. A high school senior, she was driving with her mother and aunt for a college visit to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., when their car — stopped on the highway in a line of traffic — was rear-ended by another driver speeding toward them at 65 miles per hour. Her spine was broken in four places.

Nearly 10 years later, history repeated itself. Jennifer was waiting at a red light when she was rear-ended. Her old injuries were inflamed while new ones left her with all-encompassing, shooting pain.

Despite a decade bookended by accidents, Jennifer, now 30, nevertheless hit milestone after milestone. Through surgeries and physical therapy, she went on to graduate from college and law school, worked as an attorney in the Boston area, got married and published her work as a legal consultant, blogger and freelance writer, sharing her personal experiences with readers who connected with her personal story.

But throughout all of this, she lived with one horrible constant: chronic, often debilitating pain. After her second accident, she made the decision to leave her law firm job and work from home as a freelancer.

“I have four fractures in my mid-back, my lower back has a bunch of bulging discs that hit a bunch of nerves that send pain down my legs. I have had two fusions in my neck, so I have migraines every day. At the time when I left my job, my hands didn’t really work, I couldn’t really type reliably. And I was kind of limping everywhere. It’s just all-consuming pain,” she said. “I would just be on the floor of my office, trying to do yoga, my bosses would walk by and see me on the floor — I just wasn’t in a good state. They would leave work on my desk and then come back to see me when I was in a better state.”

While Jennifer is still on a series of medications for her pain relief — off-label antidepressants, muscle relaxers and lesser opioids like tramadol — she found what she calls an unexpected alternative to heavy opioids. It’s a small wearable called Quell, a band that she wears around her calf that disperses pain relief via low-intensity electrical signals throughout her body’s nervous system. The Quell band was developed by NeuroMetrix, a Massachusetts-based company that specializes in digital and bioelectrical-driven health devices, and was cleared by the FDA to treat chronic pain without a prescription.

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