Shai N. Gozani, MD, PhD, President & CEONeuroMetrix, Inc.

When someone mentions a hacker, many people’s first thoughts turn to protecting personal data or compromised laptops and mobile devices.  But not all hacking is created equal.  One of the most powerful and mysterious computing systems – our brains – are often overlooked as objects open to modification.  Recently the wearables industry has developed technology that can not only collect data on the body, but also provides the opportunity to safely alter a user’s physiology to relieve chronic pain.

Wearable technology that uses high frequency nerve stimulation can release natural opioids that reduce pain by blocking pain signals from reaching the brain. This is life-changing news for the nearly 50 million American adults that report having significant or severe chronic pain, according to a new study prepared by National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH).  But countless more live with ongoing aches and pains, with some of the most common types being back pain, nerve pain and arthritic pain.  With so many living in constant pain, anything that can provide some level of relief and an ability to reclaim their lives is a welcome addition to their pain relief tool box.

Prescription opioids can inhibit pain because their chemical structure mimics that of natural opioids.  However, high frequency nerve stimulation affects the brain through a different molecular receptor in the spine than these synthetic drugs, removing the side effects of traditional pain relief treatments, including potential addiction from long-term use and/or abuse.  While “hacking the brain” may sound like a daunting thought, nerve stimulation technology can accomplish this naturally, using the body’s own resources, making it both safe and effective.

With every round of innovation in the wearables market, new technology innovations bring us closer to understanding and harnessing the body’s full potential.  There’s still so much we don’t know about the brain, but while we continue to research our own personal computing system, why not leverage the latest science to “hack the brain” and provide drug-free relief to those suffering with chronic pain?

Available on the market since June 2015, the Quell® wearable pain relief device, developed by NeuroMetrix, Inc., has effectively “hacked the brain” in order to help thousands of chronic pain sufferers.  Here’s how it works:  Strapped over the calf, high frequency nerve stimulation evokes neural pulses that travel from the leg through the nervous system, eventually reaching the brain.  Once the neural pulses reach the brain, this triggers the release of enkephalins by the central nervous system, blocking pain signals from reaching the brain.  At NeuroMetrix, it is our mission to continue to improve Quell’s capabilities in order to deliver alternative pain relief tools to people that desperately need more options.

About NeuroMetrix

NeuroMetrix is an innovative healthcare company that develops wearable medical technology and point-of-care tests that help patients and physicians better manage chronic pain, nerve diseases, and sleep disorders.  The company is located in Waltham, Massachusetts and was founded as a spinoff from the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology in 1996. For more information, please visit www.NeuroMetrix.com.