News that US company NeuroMetrix has been granted a patent for its ‘Quell Wearable Pain Relief Technology’ has resulted in a significant increase in its share price. So what is Quell and is investor excitement justified?
Quell is an intensive nerve stimulation device, secured by velcro and worn just below the knee. According to NeuroMetrix, it “taps into your body’s natural pain relief response”, blocking pain signals to deliver widespread pain relief throughout the body. It does not have to be worn in or near the area of the body where pain is experienced. It is also lightweight and designed to be worn day or night.
The device can be controlled via a smartphone app.
Quell works by stimulating a group of peripheral sensory nerve fibres in the calf, which are located close to the surface of the skin. These sensory nerves carry neural pulses to the pain processing centres in the central nervous system, triggering the release of endogenous opioids within the spinal cord.
Clearly, its required position below the knee would make it unsuitable for some CRPS sufferers.
Is it just a glorified TENS machine?
Although it uses the same concept as TENS, Quell is apparently five times more powerful than a TENS machine.
On a practical level its design makes it better suited and more comfortable to wear at night than a TENS machine.
Is it effective?
NeuroMetrix say that in a study, 81% of users reported an improvement in their chronic pain and 67% were able to reduce their medication. The amount and range of pain relief is not clear.
However, some users suffering Fibromyalgia have reported that it has reduced the intensity of their pain by between a third and a half, making a significant difference to their ability to function.
It is important to note that Quell is not a cure, hence its design for long term 24/7 use.
What does it cost?
Quell is available by Mail Order, with the ‘Starter Kit’ costing $249.00.
However, it should be noted that there are some significant ongoing costs as the electrodes must be replaced fortnightly (a one month supply costs $29.95) and the velcro band is likely to require replacement after a few months at a cost of $24.95.