Friday, March 30, 2001
Terry Blumenthal is not a medical device designer, but he has
important information for engineers that design defibrillators. The Wake Forest
University psychologist found that when a painless electric "pre-pulse" precedes
the painful electric shock-similar to what one might feel when an implanted
defibrillator goes off-the pre-pulse seems to lessen the body's startle response
and minimize pain.
"The pre-pulse interrupts everything, including the subsequent
processing of pain," says Blumenthal. "It diminishes the neural circuits'
ability to respond to subsequent painful stimulus," he says.
Testing the hypothesis involved delivering 150V shocks to
volunteers, who then rated shock painfulness with and without pre-pulses.
Although volunteers received the same shock, its painfulness was rated lower
with the pre-pulse.
"There may be a variety of ways to integrate these finding into
other applications using sound, sight, and other modalities," says Blumenthal.
For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.