Health Report- Rechargeable STIM eliminates pain

Health Reports

Internal stimulators implanted to control pain have been around for years. In the past, they had to be replaced about every four years when the battery died. Now, a new technology can keep patients out of the operating room for decades.

Taking up figure skating just shy of 40 is hard enough, but doing so while suffering from Interstitial Cystitis is even harder. It’s a bladder condition that caused Heather Kettle extreme pain.

“The pain I was experiencing was very intense abdominal pain, in through to my back. That would happen on a daily basis.” Kettle said.

To improve her quality of life, Heather had an internal stimulator, or Stim, implanted.

Earlier versions had a battery life of three to four years. But, a new and smaller one has a rechargeable Bluetooth battery that can last for up to 20 years. It’s charged externally, once a month.

“And you place this on your device. The device sits in your hip area and for 20, 25 minutes, it’s gonna charge and it’s gonna let the patient know when the device is charged.” said Dr. Dov Schuchman.

Stim Therapy works by placing a lead with electrodes on a nerve. This new version “talks” through a communicator to a controller, also known as the Stim’s external brain. It has 11 programs to manage pain.

“Depending on how my pain is, I can turn the level up or I can turn to level down.” Kettle said.

Kettle says the device has made her a better skater. Previously, she could only handle five to ten minutes at a time on the ice before the pain became too intense to handle.

“Everything just works better when there’s no pain involved.” Kettle said.

Kettle is now able to take the steps needed to train for competition.

Another benefit to the new stimulator is that it is MRI safe. Older versions are not.

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