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Boston Magazine 04/15/2015

Local Company Develops Device to Treat Chronic Pain

Quell Wearable Pain Relief Technology

For the millions of Americans suffering from chronic pain—the NIH defines the condition as any pain that lasts more than 12 weeks—medications are a part of everyday life. And while surgery and alternative therapies such as acupuncture may also help, a local healthcare company created a new outlet for relief.

NeuroMetrix, a Waltham-based medical technology developer, has announced the launch of the Quell system, a wearable device that uses electrical stimulation to trigger pain relief responses in the brain. Designed to be worn on the upper calf, the lightweight device activates sensory nerves in the leg. This stimulation signals the brain to release what are known as endogenous opioids, which block pain signals in the body. Many users report symptom relief in as little as 15 minutes, according to the company’s website.

Shai Gozani, the founder of NeuroMetrix, says the device is worn on the leg because of the concentration of nerves in that part of the body. The “dose” or the effect of the Quell system increases when a greater number of nerves are stimulated, he says. Wearing the device on the upper calf also affords users a degree of privacy, as it can be hidden under clothing in an easy-to-reach place. The main draw of the FDA-approved device, however, is that it provides prescription strength pain relief without any of the side effects associated with medications. Gozani, a Harvard-trained physician who also has a doctorate in neurobiology, says it also gives users more control over their treatment.

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