We were intrigued to learn about a novel pain management device, just recently announced. The device, which seems to function as a vacuum, a neurostimulator, and a happy pill, is described further below:
A direct result of this research program was the development of the Neurovasc, a unique vacuum device that restructures the superficial components of the body. The Neurovasc eradicates pain by lifting and separating the layers of injured tissue, releasing entrapped nerves that cause pain. According to Brooks, the treatment also influences patients’ brain chemistry and allows them to regain control over their lives when acute and chronic pain is relieved. With lower pain levels, patients report reduced stress, depression and anxiety levels; this also facilitates reducing patients’ dependency on caffeine, alcohol and/or medication.
“Pain and stress compounded with substance abuse will eventually kill you,” Brooks says. “The very tragic event involving Anna Nicole Smith focused public attention on this issue.”
Alas, there are no pictures of this incredible technology, just a link to the Brooks Center — dedicated to “Pursuing the Dynamic Fusion of Human Potential” — whatever that means.
We learned a little more about this device from the “Articles” tab at the Brooks Center website (only one article is listed). The Article is not exactly peer reviewed, and rests heavily on a series of press releases from University of Michigan (though elsewhere on in the paper, the researchers are said to work at Michigan State).
A pseudoscience spectacular awaits as we begin reading the paper, which was written by Ron Brooks — and Michael Prior, who is listed as a PhD but labeled as “General Council” — it sounds like he was going for “General Counsel” but got the wrong doctorate. The paper opens with tripe like this:
In early 2007 we all witnessed what we consider a very tragic event involving Anna Nicole Smith. She gave birth to a daughter and lost her son all in a moment. There is no greater trauma than a loss of a child. This was obviously compounded by the abuse of some powerful medications; can you imagine what the poor woman’s brain chemistry was doing? Perhaps this explains some of the bizarre behavior we saw before her subsequent overdose and death. This sequence of events is being played out in our country on a daily basis.
Every day, another Anna Nicole Smith. Cable news reporters would stroke out. The paper goes on to 15 citations, including the American Heritage Dictionary. Nothing of what they describe suggests anything more than a high-school level understanding of neurology (although if we had written this in high school we’d be embarrassed):
We now know that the brain has neurons that are correctly programmed to produce, send, and receive a specific biochemical. Each biochemical, called neurotransmitters, travels along a different nerve pathway, resulting in a variety of physical processes. The pain signal comes into the brain and is processed by different parts of the brain for responses. The body’s anti-pain system is activated and at the same time the chemical dopamine is released which acts as interface between stress and emotions.
Finally, they get to the point:
At this time in our research program we began to look at all of the available mechanical devices used for soft tissue manipulation. We tried these without success. Finally, we discovered an existing vacuum device used in the esthetics business, called Eureduc. At the time this device was used to reduce irregular bumps (cottage cheese) on women’s thighs. We began to use this device in conjunction with cryotherapy and vasopump, and immediately found we could reduce the “Hydraulic Effect”. This made it much easier to decompress the tissue. The upward force of the vacuum was also considerably more comfortable for the patient than the pressure from manipulating the tissue by hand.
We love how the term “cellulite” is too scientific for this article, and so the “irregular bumps” are parenthetically identified as “cottage cheese.” The Eureduc is similarly unscientific, but was patented in 1973 and sells on Ebay for several thousand dollars.
We look forward to the clinical trials that demonstrate how decades-old anti-cellulite device can provide lasting changes to brain chemistry and the body’s perception of pain. But we won’t hold our breath. Perhaps the secret is that the Brooks Center researchers apply the vacuum directly to the patient’s brain, sucking out all the neurons responsible for signaling pain. To continue to fool the public, however, these charlatans will have to target our brains’ centers of reasoning.