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August 1, 1966

Device May Block Persistent Pain

JAMA. 1966;197(5):35-36. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110050021008

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What might be called "the mother's touch principle" will be applied soon, using a pacemakertype device, in an attempt to relieve pain of terminal cancer patients, a Cleveland neurosurgeon surgeon told JAMA Medical News.

The dime-sized electronic implant, to be placed in the region of the spinal cord, is being refined for human use, possibly in September or October, C. Norman Shealy, MD, said.

"A transmitter will send radio waves to the implant, which then sends two-milliampere direct current or less to an electrode on the surface of the cord," he said. "It will be a totally implantable system."

Involved in the principle are small nerve fibers which, when stimulated, conduct painful sensations through a sequence of electrical discharges, and larger fibers which convey sensations of touch.

Dr. Shealy, who is assistant professor of neurosurgery at Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals, said electrical stimulation, especially repetitive,