Innovative Pain Management Michigan Technology Helps Amputees Live Without Debilitating Pain

A condition known as residual limb pain occurs in up to 74% of amputees according to an August 200 article in the Archives of Physical Medicine

(EMAILWIRE.COM, May 17, 2011 ) Ann Arbor, MI — Michael Cassano suffered from chronic pain in his right leg for 5 years after a work-related accident that caused massive damage to his leg. After years of intense pain, recurring infections and multiple, limb-salvaging surgeries, Cassano’s orthopedic surgeon suggested amputation to end the pain. But that did not happen; the pain, though different, was just as intense as it was before the amputation. Cassano suffered from residual limb pain, a condition which occurs in up to 74% of amputees according to an August 2000 article in the Archives of Physical Medicine. The pain was so debilitating that, at best, he was functioning at 35% of normal capacity.

Cassano’s problem with pain continued for an additional 5 years until he was introduced to the Wearable Therapy Pain Management System. The decade of pain for Cassano came to an abrupt and heavily-sought conclusion in just under 30 days of use. Six months later, Cassano is pain-free and back to 100%. “I can’t believe it,” explains Cassano. “I lost 10 years of my life to pain and now I’m pain free. I tried everything to get rid of the pain, but nothing seemed to help. I was very depressed over it. I use Wearable Therapy every day to ensure the pain stays away. My prosthesis fits much better than it ever has, and my leg muscles are amazingly strong.”

Axiobionics LLC, a Michigan-based medical device firm, has developed an innovative system designed to alleviate pain without invasive surgery, implants or pharmaceuticals. The technology, known as Wearable Therapy, excites sensory and motor nerves to induce the body into lowering its pain through an inhibitory reflex inside the spinal cord that blocks pain signals from reaching the brain. This mechanism can only be activated by artificial stimulation of the nervous system, which the Wearable Therapy system seeks to do.

In addition to pain control, the system strengthens weakened muscles, relaxes tense muscles and improves circulation to surrounding areas. Wearable Therapy, a thin and ventilated garment, is worn on the body up to 24 hours a day.

Axiobionics’ president and founder, Philip Muccio, developed Wearable Therapy initially to rebuild muscle in patients paralyzed from spinal cord injury. Actor Christopher Reeve was among the very first patients to be fitted with Wearable Therapy in 1995. Muccio says his work with paralyzed muscle led him to link the relationship between weakened muscle and the pathogenesis of pain.

“Those afflicted with chronic pain can and do find relief from the myriad of medical options available to control pain, but sometimes these treatments fail and patients can suffer for many years without adequate relief, or patients want a non-drug option, and that’s where Wearable Therapy fits in,” Muccio says.

Muccio hopes to expand Wearable Therapy’s reach in the next couple years. “It is unacceptable to allow people to suffer unnecessarily so we are committed to the expansion of our pain management system throughout Michigan.”

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