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Spinal injury patients successfully trial pain-reducing device

01st March 2013

They tested the technology, which works by interrupting pain signals to the brain, on 83 participants who were suffering from serious back and leg pain.

By implanting wires in close proximity to the spinal cord, connected to a device which produces high frequency electrical pulses of up to 10,000Hz, signals travelling to the brain can be disrupted to reduce the amount of pain felt by back injury patients.

Patients were asked to provide an pain score at the beginning of the study, and then again at six months. Those involved gave an average score of 8.4 out of 10 as their initial score – 10 being the worst pain – but by the sixth month mark rated their pain at an average of 2.7.

Participants have been able to stop taking painkilling medication, and, electrical nerve stimulation specialist Dr Adnan Al-Kaisy states, “go back to work and enjoy their lives again”.

He continues “This device has opened up a new frontier in pain management…There is nothing else out there that can reduce pain by this much. We are so proud at Guy’s to have been part of its development.”

This research means that spinal injury patients may now be able to have this implant fitted near their spine to improve their quality of life. However, prior to the implant being fitted, individuals will need to undergo a psychological assessment, be found “physically and mentally suitable”, and complete a two-week trial without complications.

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