Monday, January 4, 2016

A New Remedy for Headaches – ELECTRONIC ASPIRIN

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Changes in daily lifestyle have led to certain lifestyle diseases that are unfortunately an integral part of our daily lives. Causes could be many; ranging from hormonal changes to stress, changes in wake-sleep pattern to reaction to certain food additives, and the list goes on. Now, when migraine attacks besiege you, it leaves you retching, nauseatic, suffering from a constant throbbing pain, dizziness, and immense discomfort. Your immediate reaction is to call a doctor. And here’s what the doc says, “Take two aspirins and call me in the morning”. Migraines, cluster headaches, other causes of chronic, excruciating head or facial pain force you to take an aspirin or to and yet there is no sign of relief. Now, imagine an almond- size implant along with a small Smartphone-sized remote control – Electronic Aspirin, which stops the pain at its onset itself.

Medical reason behind migraine attacks

Medical Professionals believe that a facial bundle known as sphenopalatine neural structure (SPG) situated outside the brain behind the nasal passage and near the eye socket is associated with severe headaches and migraines. However, they haven’t until now found a treatment that works on the SPG long-term.

Electronic Aspirin

Electronic Aspirin is a technology that is a patient-powered tool for blocking sphenopalatine ganglion signals, when a patient feels the first signs of a headache. It is under clinical investigation at California based company, Autonomic Technologies, Inc.

Electronic Aspirin works by permanently implanting a small nerve stimulating device in the upper gum on the side of the head normally affected by headache. The lead tip of the implant i.e. the tiny tail connects with the SPG bundle, and when a patient senses the onset of a headache, he or she places a handheld remote controller on the cheek nearest the implant that sends a radio signal to the implanted device.  That triggers a slight electrical charge to stimulate the SPG nerve cells and block the pain-causing neurotransmitters.

Implant procedure

For patients, the implant procedure to get the device implanted is almost as easy as a wisdom tooth extraction. The patient can turn it on and off as needed. Furthermore, the patient can leave it as is or take it out, when no longer necessary.

Autonomic Technologies has been approved to treat migraine and cluster headaches in Europe, and the company is currently waiting for the FDA to approve them for testing in the U.S. In a clinical trial for people who suffered chronic headaches, upon using Electronic Aspirin, 68% reported improvement. Moreover, weekly average headaches were reduced by 31% and 75% of those reported improvement in their quality of life. 

 Medical devices are not a cure for illness, but they are improving the daily lives of people to live longer, healthier, and hopefully happier lives. Imagine the future for Electronic Aspirin, the monitoring and management of migraines with additional applications for medical devices to improve their patients’ lives. This is a new realm of science and medicine and the future for controlling pain and developing cures has only just begun.

- Mr. Iman Ikram, 
  Student,
  Healthcare Administration 




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