App Controlled Implant Jams Pain Signals To The Brain

Dec 07 2017

App Controlled Implant Jams Pain Signals To The Brain

An app that controls a tiny, surgically-implanted device for treating pain may eventually replace addictive opioids for many patients.

For example, spinal cord stimulators have been available for many years, but as the technology gets smaller, cheaper and more efficient, it is becoming an increasingly viable option for chronic pain sufferers. Studies have shown that these devices can help patients become less dependent on prescription opioids.


App: Opioid Addiction Controlled With Electric Impulses

This new device, called Intellis System was approved this past September and is made by Medtronic, a major based medical device company. Intellis is a very small implanted device measuring two inches by two inches, and weighs only one ounce. It only needs to be charged for an hour to go from empty to full but boasts a longer battery life than its spinal cord stimulator predecessors had.


The Intellis System, made by Medtronic, a major US-based medical device company, uses a very small implanted device to interfere with pain signals to the brain. Doctors can track a patient’s progress through an app in order to tailor their pain treatments and physical therapy programs

Intellis is controlled with an app platform that collects and analyzes real time data about a patient’s activity. The app tracks daily progress.



Patients implanted with Intellis gradually weaned themselves off opioids. Prescription painkiller use continued to decline over the course of the following year.  Indeed, in the United States in 2016, 61,862,354 prescriptions for opioid painkillers were filled.


Currently, the major limitation of Intellis is its cost. Models sell in the $20,000 to $50,000 range. Cost should come down as its technology advances.

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Barry G

Barry graduated from City University of New York and holds a Ph.D. in Physiological Psychology.

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