Back belt with electrodes: to market in only three years
A start-up company based in Bonn has come up with a new therapy for chronic pain. The electronic textile-based back belt confounds expectation in so far as it proves that the medical sector does not need eight or ten years to turn research-intensive ideas into a product. “We got there after three years of product development,” says Dr. Christian Haberlandt at Bomedus GmbH in Bonn, director of research and clinical studies.
When designing the original product, this young medical technology company was able to build on research results obtained previously by the TITV Institute in Thuringia-Vogtland. The TITV is an institute for special textiles and flexible materials, based in Greiz, and it will present the Bomedus Back-Belt at Techtextil as a revolutionary new method of stimulation. The institute’s principal interest is the development of textile microsystem technology and smart textile solutions in addition to conductive yarns and textile electrodes.
In Germany alone at least five million people live with chronic pain resulting from the musculoskeletal system, head or tumours. It comes from plastic and functional changes to the nerve cells of the pain processing system in the spinal cord and the brain. We speak more commonly of ‘pain memory’. This back belt is now available and can be used, for example, in case of pain from a slipped disc and spinal canal stenosis. It is recommended both for patients with these conditions and also for medical or physiotherapeutic use.
The Small Fibre Matrix Stimulation, on which the product is based, was developed in conjunction with the University Hospital of Bonn and uses neurobiological knowledge and technologies to relieve the pain memory progressively by means of electrical impulses applied directly to the affected nerves. This method is facilitated by the back belt of textile electrodes, developed by Bomedus together with the TITV especially for this application, with the electrodes enabling a special distribution of current density in the fabric. The innovation has been tested in clinical studies with the University Hospital in Bonn and CE certified according to ISO 13485. Product diversification is planned for the coming months, with Dr. Haberlandt announcing the introduction of bands for neck, shoulder, knee and stump pain.
Joachim Regenbogen is one of the first people to ‘profit’ from the back belt. He made it on to RTL with the story of his illness and cure. The man who today is again jogging in the park had problems with a vertebra. In spite of taking strong pain killers, he was in pain right down to his knee. Since he has been using the back belt twice daily for 20 minutes at a time, his pain has been eased by the soothing current which feels like a thousand small pin pricks. Only now is a sports-based therapy possible again.