I recently treated a 93-year-old patient with a compression fracture of T12 sustained during a fall a few months prior. She had difficulty walking and moving around as a result of the significant forward bended posture. She also had significant pain in the back because of the ‘wrong’ biomechanics around the thoracolumbar area.
I ended up using the WiTouchPRO (Hollywog, LLC) with great results.
About the patient
Pain was a significant obstacle in this patient. Try as she might, she could not actively recruit her musculature due to the pain. This of course interfered with our attempts at improving her biomechanics and give her back some of her prior functional activity levels.
After a few non-effective early treatments, we started incorporating the WiTouchPRO on the 4th session to see if wearing it would make a difference. She immediately managed to straighten up much better, she said that she felt much less pain and was able to participate in exercises that were difficult or impossible before. She decided to buy a unit right there and then, and use the unit at home several times per day.
I treated this lady another 6 times – 2 x per week for 3 weeks. She still wears the WiTouchPRO at home and swears by it. She has made great progress clinically with much better strength and posture. She is able to do her home exercise program much more consistently and effectively. She feels that she is OK now because she can again do the cooking she wants to do for her family when they come and visit.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS is the application of electrical stimulation to the skin in an attempt to block pain signals from passing through the spinal cord and reaching the brain. The application is very simple: connect a stimulator to some skin electrodes and deliver sensory stimuli to select parts of the body.
There are many different types of stimulators, some much more sophisticated than others. Waveforms may differ, Some are easier to use than others, but on the whole they all do the same thing – send electricity through the skin until the patient feels it, either a lot or a little. This triggers a response in the body that will eventually result in less pain being felt.
Modern stimulators are small and portable, easy to use and much cheaper than the first models that came on the market. The latest round of innovations has now also brought true wireless capabilities.
- Wearable, discrete – This device is light, low-profile and able to be worn under clothing and hidden from sight. It is thin, light and has no wires that get in the way or get hooked on things. A single button turns the WiTouch®Pro on and off; the rest is done on a mobile app or on the device itself.
- Bluetooth wireless technology – The WiTouchPRO connects to a mobile phone through Bluetooth wireless connection. After turning the device on the user remotely controls the intensity of the stimulation from this app. The app also allows the user to select the best pain relief program to use from 4 pre-programmed stimulation protocols. Treatment statistics are tracked through this app as well.
- Powerful enough to treat the large surface areas – The unit delivers an impressive 110mA of output, comparable to some larger stimulators used in the clinic. The electrode surfaces are 7 x 3.5″ each, covering a large low back region with ease. The smart anatomical design of the unit makes it surprisingly comfortable to wear, even for prolonged periods of time.
- FDA cleared for pain management
- Programs – 4 different programs on board targeting either a gate Control approach, a stimulation of endorphin release or a combination of the two. I found that the combination of programs really took care of nearly all of my pain control needs.
- Intensity Control – 15 different intensity levels. Highest level is strong enough to produce near-noxious level stimulation and muscle fasciculations. Intensity levels are high enough to manage all pain control protocol demands.
- Power Supply – 2 AAA batteries. This may be one of the only areas where I’d like to see improvements. I found that the batteries drained quickly with normal use. Turning off Bluetooth standby mode when not using the device could maybe improve battery life but that seems to defeat the purpose of one of the key features. I recommend using rechargeable batteries. Also, opening and closing the battery compartment takes a tiny screw driver (supplied with the device), which is not so easy to use and yet very ease to lose.
- Gel Pads – The device ships with 3 pairs of pads that can each be reused 5-10 times, assuming one cares for them properly when manipulating them. Replacement gel pads cost $14.95 (3 pairs). Assuming 5 uses per pair, that brings the cost per session to under $1.
- Warranty – 1 year for device.