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Perry Health

Neuromodulation Technology Reduces Opioid Use

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 27 Nov 2019
A new study shows that a combination of ice and focal vibration could serve as an alternative pain relief therapy to addictive controlled substances such as opiates.

The Pain Care Labs (San Antonio, TX, USA) VibraCool device uses a combination of cooling and high-frequency, low-amplitude, vibratory oscillation in order to target mechanoreceptors that inhibit pain. The device is based on gate control theory, which claims that the final common neural pathway of pain to the brain can be physiologically overwhelmed by transmitting cold and vibration to the central nervous system (CNS), similar to how running a burn under cold water stops the pain. The battery-powered VibraCool is based on the patented Oscillice neuromodulation platform.

Image: The VibraCool device holds 4-chamber freeze-solid ice packs (Photo courtesy of Pain Care Labs)
Image: The VibraCool device holds 4-chamber freeze-solid ice packs (Photo courtesy of Pain Care Labs)

An independent pilot study on opioid use following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) examined pain levels and the number of opioid tablets used by 14 patients over a period of seven days; the patients were tracked on a mobile phone application. The results showed that on average, VibraCool patients used 35% fewer opioids than the control group, and 12 were off opioids by their follow up visit. The study was presented at the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R) annual assembly, held during November 2019 in San Antonio (TX, USA).

“The human body is designed to adapt to motion. Recent research shows specific vibration frequencies benefit physical therapy and improve post-surgical outcomes. When combined with cryotherapy, vibration can block even intense post-operative and rehab pain,” said Amy Baxter, MD, CEO and chief medical officer of Pain Care Labs. “By applying the technology we've been using for sharp pain for a decade, we can effectively reduce chronic pain with noninvasive, non-pharmaceutical methods. We want to address the nation's opioid crisis with prevention.”

“Our technology is proving to be better than physical therapy-strength transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) units for home pain relief. It dramatically reduced opioid use post-surgery, when addiction can start,” concluded Dr. Baxter. “VibraCool uses motion and ice to harness two newly discovered physiologic pain pathways. One mechanical frequency blocks pain, one competes with pain for the brain's attention. The two intense sensations stop pain cold, without pharmaceutical help.”

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