FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – An amazing new medical advancement uses smartphone technology could help eliminate back pain.
For the past seven years, Cindy Stomm says she's had severe back pain and drop-foot due to extensive nerve damage in her left leg. Stomm says the pain was so intense she—and her husband—used to wake up in the middle of the night screaming.
“We would try everything: hot soak, cold soak, rub it, walk it—whatever I could do,” said Stomm. “I was so tired. People don’t realize how it feels when you get up. It was like I haven’t slept in a week.”
Stomm says she doesn’t know what caused the nerve damage. “I woke up one morning and thought I’d had a stroke,” she said. Since then, she’s had seven spinal surgeries to cope with the pain.
“It was rough, just to talk yourself out of the pain. I’d find myself saying I’m going to end the day short. I can’t do this,” Stomm said. “It was intense. You would find yourself not wanting to go out. In your mind you can do anything, but it’s to get up and have to apply yourself to it. Just as simple as walking in a Walmart and you were totally exhausted just by the pain.”
Nothing worked until she walked into Pain Management Associates (PMA) and discovered the AdaptiveStim by Medtronics. “I felt like nothing could help until I met Dr. Bojrab,” said Stomm.
Dr. G. David Bojrab, M.D. is the Director of Pain Management at PMA. He describes AdpativeStim as a neurostimulator that uses smart phone technology. Just like the screen on a smartphone changes when moved, the AdaptiveStim moves with the body.
“If you look at the iPad for instance, it knows where it is in space. If we turn it, the image also turns. When the spinal stimulator is in, if the patient moves positions, it is able to turn it up or down or make changes in programming based on where the body is.”
That technology is called an accelerometer. Dr. Bojrab says the idea for AdaptiveStim came from gaming systems like the Nintendo Wii.
“If it could tell on a human being where a tennis racket should be to play tennis on video, the spinal cord stimulator is able to tell where it is in space to make adjustments to the pain,” said Dr. Bojrab.
AdaptiveStim works by adjusting the stimulator’s intensity based on the amount of pain for any given movement. Through a small out-patient procedure, a wire is placed along the spine, attached to a battery. That battery is placed near the source of the pain, and can last up to nine years with charges every couple weeks in between. Dr. Bojrab says when pain shoots to the brain, the neurostimulator is triggered and blankets the pain with vibrations. Stomm says the vibrations remind her of a cat purring on your lap.
“Say like you have sciatica,” said Dr. Bojrab. “It constantly sends a signal up the spinal cord and you feel pain in your leg. Well this catheter [wire] puts an electrical field over those pathways, so you feel what the electrical field is, rather than feeling that piercing, sharp, miserable pain.”
Dr. Bojrab says AdaptiveStim has helped six people in the area so far. For Stomm, it’s changed her life.
“I thought, why hadn’t I done it sooner?” said Stomm. “I totally was a non-believer until I had the trial put on. Once it got on, the way it took over the pain the first few nights I was shocked!”
The first thing I noticed was I could sleep.” Stomm says even her husband’s life is better because he can sleep as well.
Dr. Bojrab says the neurostimulator cannot cure the problem, but it can certainly help with the pain. He says the only thing a person can’t do with the AdaptiveStim is get a full-body MRI, but patients can still receive head and brain MRI’s and CT-scans. Stomm understands that, but is thankful anyway.
“I still have drop-foot. I still have nerve damage, but this had made my life so much happier,” she said.
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