Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a popular way for pain suffers to treat their pain without drugs. But there are drawbacks. The devices that deliver TENS are frequently bulky and expensive. They’re clearly designed to deliver the therapy, not necessarily to be easy to use.
iTENS hopes to shake off the clunky problems of other TENS devices by focusing on the user experience.
The iTENS uses the same FDA-approved technology of other TENS devices like the Quell. It works by using electrical stimulation to hijack the signals that tell the brain to feel pain, encouraging the brain to release feel-good chemicals like endorphins instead.
But unlike other devices, iTENS puts that technology in a simpler package.
The device can be placed on your body with two different sized “wings.” The small wings, which measure 5.5 inches across, are designed for the back of your neck or arm. The large wings are 6.5 inches across and are more suitable for your back or leg. The wings have a laser-printed silver conductive surface that delivers the electric therapy over a wide area.
The wings stick to your skin with gel pads, and the device itself can last for 24 hours on a single charge. Charging takes about two hours. They’re designed to have a low profile, so they can be hidden under clothing. Users who have pain in more than one area can stick multiple devices on their body.
“What’s nice is that it’s all powered by an app,” said iTENS CEO Joshua Lefkovitz. “There are body part settings and condition-specific settings. There’s the sciatic nerve, arthritis, carpal tunnel, and more.”
The ability to monitor the iTENS through an app, much in the same way you do with other wearables, is simultaneously obvious and innovative. Usually, intensity controls are on the TENS device itself, which is frustrating if you are wearing the device on your back. But with the iTENS app, you can dial up or dial down the intensity depending on your pain management needs.
You also fine-tune the TENS pulses to help discover which ones actually make you feel more comfortable. There’s even a pain tracking mode that allows you to log your pain on a scale of 1 to 10, which can give you a clearer picture of which settings are actually effective.
But the best part of the package is probably the price. While some TENS devices start at a few hundred dollars, the iTENS is just $99. The main recurring expense is the gel pads, which cost $6.99 for a pack of three. Each gel pad is good for 10 uses.
iTENS reveals the next logical step for healthcare wearables: legitimate treatment, not just tracking. With its user-friendly app and intuitive design, iTENS is notable because it solves a problem that used to be limited to a clinic (and a high price tag) — and it does so with the momentum of a lasting device in the modern wearable age.