A new pain relief implant using Wii-style technology for people with chronic nerve pain has been used in Scotland for the first time.
Ailsa MacKenzie-Summers, 42, from East Kilbride today became the first patient to benefit from the new technology when NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Dr Gordon McGinn fitted the new ‘neurostimulator implant’ under local anaesthetic at Glasgow’s New Victoria Hospital.
The implant uses state-of-the-art Wii-style motion sensing technology to provide pain relief when a patient moves around. At present most implants require the patient to constantly adjust the amount of pain relief according to their movements but the new device does this automatically.
The new implant is only suitable for certain patients with chronic pain caused by nerve irritation that medication has not been able to treat.
Ailsa has suffered from severe pain in her leg for a number of years as a result of nerve damage. Speaking just before her operation she explained: “I already have an implant but certain movements are more painful than others and as such I have to adjust it almost all the time via a hand held remote when I move.
“Today I am very excited about having this new implant. It will make such a huge difference to my quality of life. The fact that I won’t need to adjust it when I move and that this will happen automatically will have an enormous positive impact on me. At the moment I can walk unaided for about 50-100 metres before having to use my crutches but with the new implant I should be able to move about much more freely and crucially - without pain.”
Dr McGinn explained how it works: “The new neurostimulator implant is an excellent step forward in pain relief for patients with chronic neuropathic pain such as sciatica and other pain caused by severe nerve irritation.
“Electrodes are inserted onto the spinal chord and when activated they create an electric field around it. The electrodes then stimulate the nerves around the spinal chord and effectively mask the pain by generating a pleasant tingly feeling.
“It’s almost like when you bang your elbow and then rub it to mask the pain. The new implant has the same pain masking effect.”
Speaking after Ailsa’s successful 45-minute operation Dr McGinn said: “The procedure went very well and was straightforward. I and the rest of the team are delighted to have been involved in the first use of this treatment in Scotland. I think the new implant will bring many benefits to patients in terms of improved quality of life, decreased disability and also in the support of their rehabilitation.”
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