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AARP 10/27/2017

Highlighting Medical Breakthroughs

Pioneering drugs that remedy once-intractable diseases; clever products that make everyday living easier for people with injury or illness; innovative technologies that provide relief at a touch of a button — by all measures, 2017 has been a year of astounding health care advancements. Here are some of the ways medical trailblazers and researchers are creating fresh possibilities for you and your family.

Conquer Aches Without Drugs

The cartilage in Joe Cleggett’s hip joint had worn through, allowing bones to rub against each other. Seeking to hold off on hip-replacement surgery, the 73-year-old from Braintree, Massachusetts, tried a new device to treat the pain. Quell is a strap placed around the calf near the knee. By electrically stimulating a bundle of nerves there, it can relieve pain anywhere in the body. “It’s basically telling your brain, ‘You’re really not feeling this pain, so let it go,’ ” Cleggett says. —Denny Watkins

Companies are also developing pain remedies that use headsets to immerse people in virtual worlds. In clinical trials and studies, patients said they felt a 24 percent pain reduction while virtually throwing balls at animated bears and 60 percent less pain while floating through a wintry landscape and lobbing snowballs. For some, pain relief lasted a day after using the headset. —Lexi Pandell

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