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How Electric Pulses Can Help Fight The Opioid Crisis

A device from Innovative Health Solutions recently got a stamp of approval from the Food and Drug Administration.
Posted at 2:23 PM, Mar 06, 2018

This device is taking on the opioid crisis in a different way. The NSS-2 Bridge targets withdrawal symptoms — which can be intense enough to prevent some people from getting sober. 

"I thought they were full of [it]," said Kaylin Fairchild, a former user of the device. "I thought it was a bunch of talk. What is this little device, how's it going to make me feel any better?"

Here's how it works. Doctors can prescribe patients the Bridge, which they wear behind their ear. The Bridge sends electrical pulses to cranial nerves, aiming to reduce withdrawal symptoms from opioids for five days. That's how long the company behind the product, Innovative Health Solutions, says the most acute symptoms last. 

Treatment devices that use electrical pulses have been used in other medical contexts. But for opioid addiction treatment, the Bridge is the first device of its kind to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Some critics say there isn't enough evidence that the device actually works — but Innovative Health Solutions says that criticism is based on a small portion of the research done on the device. 

Since 2016, 5,000 patients have tried the Bridge. The device costs $700, but some insurance plans do cover the costs — a process that could take nine months. Innovative Health Solutions says it's also currently in talks with Medicaid offices.