An Ohio Company is at the Forefront of Non-Opioid Pain Management
How Innovative Medical Equipment is revolutionizing thermal therapy
Until recently, pain management for acute and chronic conditions has often involved prescription medications, including opioids. As doctors and patients have begun to shift toward other methods of treating pain, the medical device industry is exploring new ways to improve patient care. At the forefront of this industry shift is Innovative Medical Equipment, an Ohio company that created an innovative thermoelectric device to help patients manage pain and improve injury recovery.
“My partner Dr. Bahman Guyuron and I initially developed a product called SootheAway, which was a device to help alleviate migraine pain,” President Brad Pulver said. “We set out to design a continuous cooling and heating system that didn’t run on ice. After we completed the design development, FDA approval, and initial sales to migraine sufferers, we realized that this idea had broad market potential beyond just migraines. We rebranded it as ThermaZone when we expanded into other segments like orthopedics, chronic pain management, podiatry, chiropractic, and a number of other specialties.”
ThermaZone is powered by thermoelectric technology that uses two ounces of distilled water to either cool the device to 38 degrees or warm it to 125 degrees. Because the product doesn’t use ice, it can run continuously at a precise and consistent temperature. Built-in timer modes and sleep timers allow the device to provide heating and cooling therapy for defined periods of time.
“We’ve expanded ThermaZone to be a tool that can be used by anybody who historically would have used ice or heat to manage their chronic or acute pain,” Pulver said. “For example, a large number of orthopedic surgery procedures happen every year, and almost 100% of those patients are recommended to use some sort of cooling therapy to reduce pain, swelling, inflammation, and restore their range of motion. We help provide that in a much safer and simpler manner, so the patient can administer that therapy at home and over a prolonged period of time.”
But those aren’t the only post-surgical benefits the device offers. The technology is helping to reduce, and in some cases, eliminate the need for opioids to manage pain after surgery, which helps reduce chronic opioid use for patients as well. In an internal survey conducted over the course of the past year, the company found that 88% of patients who were using opioids for pain management were able to reduce their consumption by using ThermaZone.
“To some degree, a lot of patients still need opioids, but we’re looking to show that when people use ThermaZone after surgery, their reliance on those potentially harmful and addictive medications goes down significantly,” he said. “We might help reduce opioid use to the first two or three days after surgery, and from there, patients can self-manage their pain with the ThermaZone device. Or for people who have non-surgical, chronic back pain and routinely take pills to manage their pain, the device could also reduce this reliance.”
As the company expands further into the pain management space and looks for new ways to grow its product line, it’s focused on building awareness of the device, as well as making it more broadly available to the medical community and potentially to the masses in the consumer marketplace. And for Pulver, the Ohio funding, resources, and manufacturing that the company has received are a huge part of why he and his team plan to continue growing the business right here in Ohio.
“We’re fortunate to be in an area with a lot of prominent medical institutions like the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and MetroHealth,” he said. “Local surgeons were generous enough to help us with early designs and give us product feedback, and we’re grateful for their help. We’re also grateful to the state for its financial support, and we’ve been a good steward of its funding, which has been instrumental to fuel our growth.”
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