The US Patent and Trademark Office awarded a patent to Hollywog LLC on September 19, entitled “Portable TENS Apparatus and Method of Use Thereof”. On the face of it, this may not sound like much, but it has the potential to be a really big deal for us clinicians. Let me explain.
Hollywog is a company that was created by veteran professionals in the medical device industry. These leaders know their audience – Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, Athletic Trainers – and they know what they need. They have built devices that help maximize the practice efficiency and improve patient outcomes and are now creating new breakthrough products at Hollywog.
So what is this patent all about? It is very simple and very cool. It is the method by which a small-profile, lightweight TENS device can be controlled wirelessly by a controller such as a remote control or an app on a smartphone.
TENS technology is not very complicated. It is basically a simple electrical pulse generator that delivers electricity to the patient through surface electrodes attached to the skin. The patient feels it and pain relief follows. Some people call it an “electrical pain pill”. Because of its reliable efficacy, TENS has seen widespread adoption among clinicians. It just works and it works very well. Patients are now also buying these devices directly in common retail locations.
The breakthrough represented by this invention is that now, the controller can go mobile. This means not only can the device be controlled remotely via Bluetooth connection, but the smartphone it connects to has the potential to also gather data. The possibilities are really exciting for clinicians and patients alike. The patient will find it very convenient to be able to start and control their TENS device directly from their phone. The clinician will be able to receive data about their patient’s use of the TENS device – when they use it, for how long they use it, how high they turn it up. Patients will be able to add information about how they feel in terms of pain and mobility before and after they use their device and all that information could then be sent to the clinician's practice management system wirelessly and securely. Patient compliance with TENS use could also improve when using the TENS device this way, discretely and without the hassle of wires. And clinicians could also possibly push out patient instructions and guidelines to the phone app, based on the patient's use of the TENS device. The possibilities are endless!
I think this stuff is way cool!
Yorick Wijting, PT, DPT 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.