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Using WiTouchPRO in the outpatient clinic - An update

Using WiTouchPRO in the outpatient clinic - An update

I reported on some nice experiences with the WiTouchPRO a few weeks ago.

The patient I described in the post is a 93-year-old lady with a compression fracture of T12 a few months ago. She has difficulty walking and moving around as a result of the significant forward bended posture. She has significant pain in the back because of the ‘wrong’ biomechanics around the thoracolumbar area.

After a few non-effective early treatments, we started incorporating the WiTouchPRO on the 4th session to see if wearing it would make a difference. She immediately managed to straighten up much better, she said that she felt much less pain and was able to participate in exercises that were difficult or impossible before. She decided to buy a unit right there and then, and use the unit at home several times per day.

I have treated this lady another 6 times – 2 x per week for 3 weeks – since the last post. She still wears the WiTouchPRO at home and swears by it. In fact, she is so enthusiastic about it that she has convinced her son and her daughter-in-law to get a device as well for their back pain. She has made great progress clinically with much better strength and posture. She is able to do her home exercise program much more consistently and effectively. She feels that she is OK now because she can again do the cooking she wants to do for her family when they come and visit. Done and dusted! Patient is discharged.

I am of the firm opinion that the use of this kind of TENS – low-profile, self-contained, easy to use – has delivered increased utilization and compliance in this patient, and with it clinical outcomes.

TENS to manage symptoms of CRPS

I have given the same unit to a 61-year-old patient with definite signs of sympathetic hyperactivity (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or CRPS) in the right arm and hand. He has had this issue for over a year, gradually getting worse. The underlying pathology is probably the disc protrusion at C5-6 and C6-7. His hand gets painful, swollen and cold. The more he pushes himself, the worse it gets, which is standard behavior for this kind of problem.

I have asked him to use the WiTouchPRO on the upper thoracic spine at least 2 x per day. Two weeks into it, things are looking very promising! Less swelling, less pain, better circulation. He was able to resume his work (landscaping) as a result of the improvement. He is even considering postponing or canceling the scheduled surgery to fuse his cervical segments. This is huge! Non-narcotic pain control, surgery avoidance…

It’s amazing to me to see to what extent pain can be a driving force behind the functional limitations I see in my patients. We are all taught that pain is not a primary impairment, that we should treat the underlying cause and not the symptom (pain). That may make good sense, but not treating the pain often ends you up in a no-win situation. Pain = stop moving = everything gets worse.

Non-narcotic pain management

Today I treat pain in a non-invasive way wherever and whenever I can. I look for equipment like the WiTouchPRO because of its ease-of-use; it promotes patient compliance, which is absolutely essential

By the way, I mentioned in my earlier post that I tried to explain to my 93-year-old patient that she could control her WiTouchPRO via an app on a smartphone. She laughed and explained that was still using a ‘regular’ phone. Now that her son and daughter-in-law are using the same device, they have installed the app, they are using it and are enjoying it. They are also trying to convince their mother/mother-in-law to get a new phone so she can enjoy the same convenience.

Good luck with that…

Yorick Wijting, PT, DPT (www.specialistpt.com) received his degree in Physical Therapy in the Netherlands and later his DPT at the University of St. Augustine in Florida. He has practiced physical therapy in various care settings across Europe, South Africa and the United States. He has extensive training and practical experience in electrotherapy and teaches nationally and internationally to medical professionals on its therapeutic use. He is passionate about helping clinicians discover how technology can enhance their efficiency and treatment outcomes.

Using WiTouch PRO in the Outpatient PT Clinic

Using WiTouch PRO in the Outpatient PT Clinic

I have been having fun with the new WiTouch PRO lately! We started using the device in our outpatient PT clinic a few weeks ago. The attraction was the ease-of-use and of course the wireless aspect – no wires to worry about, nothing to get tangled in.

WiTouch PRO - OTC TENS

The device is not a replacement for the usual clinical units since the electrodes are integrated into the unit itself; the user only has to replace the gel pads from time to time, which is very practical when using the device at home. So we have been using a trial device in the clinic to ‘test’ whether a patient would be appropriate for it and if so, recommend the patient buy it for their own use at home. Several patients have gone home with one in the last 2 weeks. I’ll share details on two of them since the results were quite remarkable.

A Case Study

This patient is a 93-year-old lady with a compression fracture of T12 a few months ago. She has no more pain at the fracture site itself but has a lot of pain in the low back and difficulty walking as a result of the significant forward bended posture. The muscles are weak and not firing properly because of this dynamic. The first few treatment sessions focused on decreasing the pain and improving circulation in the back, to hopefully be able to get her to engage in some meaningful exercise therapy, but progress was almost non-existent. We applied the WiTouch PRO on the 4th session to see if wearing it would make a difference. Did it ever! She managed to straighten up much better, she said that she felt much less pain almost immediately and was able to participate in exercises that were impossible before. It was so obvious to her and her husband that they decided to buy a unit from the front office right there and then so they could use the unit at home several times per day. I’ll see what carry-over we will have when I see her next week and will report back in my next blog post. 

Low-profile wireless TENS

The unique aspect of WiTouch PRO that makes it so suitable for this kind of scenario is that it is low-profile and totally self-contained. All that needs to be done to get it going is to turn it on, apply it to the skin, and increase the intensity with the control button on the unit. After that, it executes the standard program (a proprietary program incorporating both high and low-frequency TENS) for 30 minutes. I was working with the patient in the gym area with the device running without any wires or stimulators to worry about. Very convenient.

The intensity can also be controlled via an app on a smartphone connected to the WiTouch PRO via Bluetooth. I mentioned this to my patient and she laughed. “I’m not smart enough for a smartphone,” she said. “I only have a flip-up phone.” Oh, well…

I’ll describe the second patient in my next blog post. Stay tuned.

Yorick Wijting, PT, DPT (www.specialistpt.com) received his degree in Physical Therapy in the Netherlands and later his DPT at the University of St. Augustine in Florida. He has practiced physical therapy in various care settings across Europe, South Africa and the United States. He has extensive training and practical experience in electrotherapy and teaches nationally and internationally to medical professionals on its therapeutic use. He is passionate about helping clinicians discover how technology can enhance their efficiency and treatment outcomes.

Pain – The Invisible Illness

Pain – The Invisible Illness

Pain is sometimes called an invisible illness. It is not an actual disease, yet it triggers widespread functional issues as if it were one. People in pain participate in life like everybody else. They typically do not talk about their pain much, and often hide it quite well. 

September was Pain Awareness month in the USA. The goal of the month is to make pain less invisible. So how aware are we of the problem of pain? Take the following little quiz and see how you do: 

How many adult Americans have daily chronic or severe pain?

10 Million
20 Million
35 Million
50 Million

If you guessed 50M, you are right. According to a 2012 study (1) by the National Institutes of Health 25M adults have chronic daily pain and another 24M have severe pain. That is over 10% of the population! When you go about your day today, look around you; 1 out of 10 people you see is probably hurting badly right now. 

Try this one:

Out of these millions of people in the most severe kind of pain, how many of them rated their health good or better?

Less than 10%
10-30%
30-50%
More than 50%

The answer: More than 50%. These people are not staying at home because of pain. They don’t feel sick, but they hurt somewhere.

Pain Management

Many different things can be done to try to reduce the pain, some more effective than others. There are of course pain pills but they have side effects. There are all kinds of exercise programs, healthy eating habits, postural techniques, etc.

All of these are good and useful if they achieve the following outcomes: pain is reduced, the patient can move around easier and participation in normal daily activities is better than before.

A drug that is very effective at taking away the pain temporarily but also makes you drowsy so you can’t concentrate or drive while taking it is therefore not an ideal solution.

TENS to manage Pain

Fortunately there is a very effective tool to reduce the amount of pain without any of the side effects associated with drugs – TENS Therapy. Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation is a very simple, safe and non-invasive technique where surface electrodes deliver small electrical pulses to your skin. When using specific frequencies and intensities, the sensation will mask the pain and also stimulates your body to produce its own pain-relieving drug. See this post for some more information.

WiTouchPRO

WiTouchPRO - Wireless TENSUsing TENS has now become much easier thanks to a cool new technology developed by Hollywog. The company set out to remove some of the hassle involved in using TENS – dealing with electrodes and lead wires, increasing intensity, adjusting settings, etc.

The result is the new WiTouchPRO. It’s very easy to use. Just turn it on, stick it on the skin where it hurts and increase the intensity until you feel a comfortably strong sensation. The device is controlled by an app loaded on your smartphone. This app also collects statistics on how much and how strongly you use the device. This info is often helpful for your therapist or doctor.

This breakthrough solution meets all the criteria of a successful way to manage your pain: it decreases your pain, it’s easy to wear while working or playing around, and it comes with no problematic side effects. Life has just become a whole lot better! 

 

References

1. Nahin, R. L. (2015). Estimates of pain prevalence and severity in adults: United States, 2012. The Journal of Pain16(8), 769-780.

 

Yorick Wijting, PT, DPT (www.specialistpt.com) received his degree in Physical Therapy in the Netherlands and later his DPT at the University of St. Augustine in Florida. He has practiced physical therapy in various care settings across Europe, South Africa and the United States. He has extensive training and practical experience in electrotherapy and teaches nationally and internationally to medical professionals on its therapeutic use. He is passionate about helping clinicians discover how technology can enhance their efficiency and treatment outcomes.