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    The Wearable That Promises to Ease Your Chronic Pain

    Written by

    Kari Paul


    Image: Kari Paul

    A new wearable called Quell claims to be the first to alleviate some of the symptoms of chronic pain using intensive nerve stimulation.

    The FDA-approved, drug-free device works by stimulating nerves in the upper calf, which carry neural pulses to the brain to activate endogenous opioids. The chemicals work as natural pain relievers, blocking pain signals throughout the body and naturally treating pain in conditions like neuropathy, arthritis, and fibromyalgia.

    “It’s well-proven; basically we have been able to take technology that has been in doctors’ offices and put it in a wearable device that is very personalized,” Frank McGillin, Quell's senior vice president and general manager, said on Monday evening. The device was on display at CES Unveiled, an event that gives an early look at some of the gadgets that will be included in the annual technology trade show.

    Image: Kari Paul

    Because a younger person experiencing chronic pain may require a different level of nerve stimulation than a 90-year-old grandmother, the device calibrates itself to users’ physiology and weight when it is worn. It also tracks sleep, reducing the amount of electrical stimulation during rest and documenting users’ sleep patterns in general.

    Initial studies cited by Quell use a relatively small sample size of just 88 people, but the results are positive thus far: 86 percent of the users it surveyed reported they were satisfied with the device’s management of chronic pain, and 67 percent reported a reduction in medication use after a 90-day trial.

    The gadget retails for $250 and each additional month of electrodes costs $29.95.