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The Boston Globe 01/07/2016

FDA approves upgrade to Quell, a dongle that zaps away pain

NeuroMetrix Inc. will sell a new version of its pain-zapping dongle, Quell, starting this spring.

Quell Wearable Pain Relief Technology

Quell is a battery operated device that relieves pain by delivering a small current of electricity to the body.

It looks like a powder compact and is worn strapped to the calf — that’s the best spot for Quell to work its magic, even if the wearer is aching elsewhere, because of how the body’s nerves are arranged. The zapping feels like a gentle vibration, according to Waltham-based NeuroMetrix.

The new version of Quell is approved by the Food and Drug Administration and has a longer battery life. It’s also the first version that can be controlled remotely; wearers can adjust the intensity of the current and turn it on and off from an app on a smartphone.

Earlier versions of Quell have been able to sense when the wearer is asleep, and power off or decrease the intensity of stimulation during that time. NeuroMetrix claims this sleep-tracking feature has become more sophisticated in the new version.

“There’s a link between pain and sleep — if you’re in pain you don’t sleep if you don’t sleep well you pain is worse,” said Frank McGillin, senior vice president of consumer health at NeuroMetrix.

Although the idea of strapping a shock-emitting device to your leg might sound a little weird, “transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation” is an accepted form of medical therapy. Founder Shai Gozani founded the company in 1996 with the goal of bringing people relief with a device that was smaller than previous versions and had no wires.

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