London doctors use Wii-style technology to relieve chronic back pain

Hope over pain relief implant which uses Wii technology

By Fergus Walsh
Medical correspondent, BBC News

Robert Mason
Robert Mason said he was delighted with the results

A new type of pain relief implant for chronic back and leg disorders which uses Wii-style technology has been used for the first time in Britain.

Doctors at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London installed the neurostimulator in a patient left in pain from an accident.

The device uses motion-sensing technology to adjust the level of pain relief being administered.

The patient, Robert Mason, 35, from Berkshire, said he was delighted.

Neurostimulators have already been approved for use in the NHS by the health watchdog NICE.

Wires implanted in the spinal cord deliver mild electrical signals which helps to mask the body’s pain signals with a tingling sensation.

But when a patient moves position they frequently require adjustment to vary the level of stimulation, otherwise patients can end up with a surge of pain.

Constant pain

The new device has a motion sensor, similar to those found in a Nintendo Wii or iPhone. It uses the force and direction of gravity to sense the patient’s position.

Up until the treatment, Mr Mason had endured severe and constant pain in his back and left leg ever since an accident eight years ago. Nothing, even the most powerful pain-killers, had worked.

“My pain has been a constant eight out of 10, like the worst toothache you can imagine. I get about two hours sleep a night at best, and then only in short bursts.”

Click the link to read more about Wii-style technology

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