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Medgadget 04/04/2018

Neurostimulation Enhanced by Digital Health

Neurostimulation has the capacity to stop pain signals from traveling up to the brain, but to mask the pain effectively and for long periods of time clinicians have turned to implants. That is because conventional TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) devices don’t have the strength and focus to comfortably quell pain in long intervals.

Quell Wearable Pain Relief

NeuroMetrix, a publicly traded company based in Waltham, MA, has developed technologies that overcome many of the limitations of TENS devices, allowing the firm’s main product, the Quell Wearable Pain Relief device, which we tested out a few years ago, to fight pain externally for hours at a time.

We had a chance to speak with the CEO of NeuroMetrix, Shai N. Gozani, M.D., Ph.D., about the company’s technology, what it offers to patients, and how it will be improved in the future. What follows is a transcript of our conversation.

Shai N. Gozani M.D., Ph.D.: At its core it’s neurostimulation. Broadly, it’s in a category of TENS devices. What we’ve tried to do, when you think in terms of the spectrum of neurostimulation from short-term TENS devices all the way to implantable spinal cord stimulators, they all operate on a similar principle of activating the descending pain inhibition system, but there is a huge difference in dose. The typical TENS devices are put on for a very short period of time. Not stimulating a lot of nerves, very low dose, you’re going to get maybe some localized effect. Implantables are 24×7, stimulating a large surface area, because they are at the dorsal column of the spinal cord at the proximal location. What we try to do is trying to achieve a much higher dosing but non invasively, so the model is a wearable chronic use device.

It’s a nerve stimulator, worn with a large electrode, so you stimulate a lot of nerves. Not as much of a surface area as you effectively get with implantables, but a large large surface area. It’s designed to be a wearable, including during sleep, so our average user gets about 10 hours of wear per day.

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