First for East as hospital uses pain relieving motion sensor technology

A pioneering pain management device that uses the latest technology found in iPhones and Wii remotes has been implanted into a patient in the East of England for the first time by doctors at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

The neurostimulator implant treats treats chronic neuropathic pain in the arms or legs using Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS). This is where mild electrical pulses are delivered to the spinal cord to mask the body’s pain signals and replace them with a tingling sensation.

The neurostimulator is the first in the world to use an accelerometer – the motion-sensing technology found in an iPhone or Wii remote. It senses a change in the patient’s body position or activity level and automatically adjusts how much pain relieving stimulation to deliver. For example, if the patient is lying on their back then a lower stimulation will be delivered, but if they are lying on their front then a higher-dose will be delivered.

Until now patients have only been able to use devices that deliver pre-set levels of constant stimulation which meant they had to frequently change their pain-relief settings manually whenever they changed position or activity. This often led to Spinal Cord Stimulation users experiencing broken sleep due to inadequate pain relieving stimulation.

The Medtronic device, called a RestoreSensor™, was designed in the US and features technology that uses the force and direction of the Earth’s gravity to sense the patient’s position. It also houses its own ‘black box’ which records and stores the frequency of the posture and activity changes. This data, available for the first time in a SCS device, helps the clinician know whether the patient’s activity level and individual stimulation requirements are changing over time.

Dr Jon Valentine, pain management consultant at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, said: “We are very lucky here at the Norfolk and Norwich to be able to provide this service to a group of patients who suffer upper and lower limb neuropathic pain, which is notoriously difficult to treat. RestoreSensor™ is a big step in the on-going development of these devices. By automatically responding to the patient’s position the device provides optimal stimulation irrespective of what the patient is doing at that particular time. Inserting the RestoreSensor™ into one of our patients early on in the introduction of the device into the UK is a healthy indication that the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and its Pain Management Centre are providing an up to date, contemporary service.”

Ann Clark , 64, from Norwich, is the first patient in the region to benefit from this new technology. Mrs Clark, a grandmother and a retired nurse, has had a neurostimulator for the past decade but nothing as effective as the new implant. She said: “I feel very grateful to have had the opportunity to benefit from this new technology. Without it I just can't walk in the morning, it's been absolutely amazing. It interrupts the pain signals going from my back to the brain and to me it's like a miracle. It's a made a real difference to me as it allows me to be mobile. I'm even thinking of having a holiday for the first time in two years.”

Notes to editors:

Spinal cord stimulation was approved for use in adults with certain forms of chronic neuropathic pain in October 2008 by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE, TA159).

RestoreSensor is made by Medtronic, the global leader in medical technology. Visit:

Friday 27th of August 2010 09:00:54 AM