More than a year ago, 80-year old Helen Douglass described her shoulder and forearm pain following a stroke as 9 out of 10. Last summer, the Cleveland-area resident participated in a clinical trial for SPRINT, a small wearable stimulator patch. Now, she says she has no pain.
Her story is one of many SPR Therapeutics points to as the Ohio company markets the FDA-approved portable device. CEO Maria Bennett says SPRINT is somewhere between TENS and a fully implantable stimulation device, as it delivers neuro-stimulation to the nerve causing pain.
“Part of the wire is placed in the body in proximity to that target nerve that’s causing the pain while the remaining part of the wire exits the body and is connected to an external stimulator that provides stimulation from the wire to the nerve,” Bennett explains.
SPR says patients only have to wear SPRINT for two months, and the pain disappears for months or years.
Dr. John Chae, Medical Director of Neuro-musculoskeletal Service at MetroHealth System, says the patch works best for stroke patients, people with shoulder, lower back, phantom amputation pain and pain following a total knee replacement.
"Individuals who had the pain for less than 18 months had the best response,” Chae says.
He believes the reason the pain goes away after such a short time is the device is able to reverse changes in the spinal cord and brain after the constant bombardment of pain sensations.
Chae and others believe this technology can replace opioid use. Even Ohio politicians are talking about it.
In a speech to the Cincinnati Rotary Club on July 27, Secretary of State Jon Husted bragged about SPR’s breakthrough.
"We’re going to have all kinds of medical inventions that are going to change the way we live. I was with a company yesterday that has created a new device that will relieve pain with a patch with an electrical wire in your back,” Husted. “You don’t have take an opioid anymore.”
The patch may eventually be tested for pain relief in other areas of the body.