Kiwi company Exsurgo designs chronic pain tool to retrain people's brains

The answer to chronic pain management could be to retrain your brain.

A Kiwi company has designed a way to do just that by playing simple games using just your brain in the comfort of your own home.

The slick piece of engineering is a lightweight portable headset that connects to a tablet - and it could be the future of chronic pain management.

"It's like a fire alarm that won't go off - it's a warning signal, pain is a warning signal," says Exsurgo CEO Richard Little.

"That warning signal is going all the time and so for us, it's about changing the signals associated with that and turning that alarm down."

Little and his team wanted to help the one in five people who suffer from chronic pain without the need for them to take medication. The result is the Axon.

"It's a wearable EEG device which reads electrical activity in someone's brain," Little says.

"We send it wirelessly to a tablet. The tablet then displays that information in a game format. The patient plays simple games or neurological exercises and that helps them modify the electrical signals in their brain associated with pain."

Kiwi company Exsurgo designs chronic pain tool to retrain people's brains
Photo credit: Newshub.

It tracks brain activity, so anytime someone relaxes, a 'ding' sound is heard as positive reinforcement that they're doing the right thing.

It's designed to be used for 35 minutes four times a week for eight weeks.

In a trial in the United Kingdom, 16 patients gave it a go during lockdown and the results spoke for themselves.

"People had reduced swelling in their fingers, their migraines completely ceased, or what they said was the pain was in the background, it wasn't in the foreground anymore," says Christine Ozolins, Exsurgo chief science officer.

A New Zealand trial is imminent, and all going well, the Axon could be prescribed to you by your doctor as early as 2022.