Using sound to treat patients before prescribing opioids

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Doctors have used sound waves – or shock waves – to break up kidney stones since the 1980s. But the idea of ​​using sound to help people cope with pain

KENNESAW, Ga. — In less than three years, opioid overdose deaths have increased 218%, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Now a small Kennesaw company hopes to lead the way in tackling the opioid crisis and it starts on the operating table.

SoftWave Technologies just got the patent for using sound to protect people from opioid addiction.

It’s not a new therapy. Doctors have been using sound waves — or shock waves — to break up kidney stones since the 1980s. But the idea of ​​using sound to help people cope with pain instead of opioids is brand new.

It sounds strange, but CEO John Warlick said it was the sound of relief.

“It’s just sound waves, thunder and lightning,” he said.

He’s worked with technology for years to help people regain range of motion, heal old injuries, and even remove tattoos.

“Sound waves have four different types of energy. We have heat, electromagnetism, acoustics, and light, and I know that sounds corny, but it adds up to HEAL,” he said. declared.

This device delivers rapid pulses when applied with ultrasound gel to the skin.

“We’re basically tricking the body into thinking it’s been hurt, and your body heals itself,” he said.

He’s used to patients experiencing pain relief after treatment, but said after he started learning more about the opioid crisis in the US, he wondered if they could stop the pain. before it starts.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 2 million Americans become addicted to opioids each year.

“We started thinking, how can we help,” he said.

He filed a patent application to bring SoftWave Technologies into the operating room to help cure patients before an opioid was ever prescribed.

“Many of these patients became addicted because of painful surgery or injury or slip and fall,” he said.

Dr. John David Mullins practices at Piedmont Hospital and Shepherd Center and consistently uses treatment to help his patients avoid addictive drugs.

“We all have that in the back of our minds, a big fear of starting someone down a path to opioid addiction, so whatever we can do to avoid that is part of our practice strategy,” said Mullins.

The idea is that if there is no pain in the first place, the patient will never need to take it.

“I can’t believe nobody else thought of this first, it was this really, really simple application of this rudimentary technology,” he said.

Warlick said if they could participate in all operations that required an opioid for pain management after recovery, and doctors used it instead, they could cut the number of opioids prescribed in the country in half. .

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