Sharon Wade has seen firsthand t

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Sharon Wade has seen firsthand t Powered By Docstoc
					A New-Wave Therapy
for Diabetic Neuropathy
By Norra MacReady

           haron Wade has seen firsthand the         the infection may spread to the bone, and       plates for the feet. Under each footplate are
           dreadful   toll of seve:e diabetes.       the foot may then have to be amputated.         three magnets, which rotate continuously
                                 . ...
         Her mother developed diabetic               Some experts estimate that half of all such     and deliver 1,800 gauss of magnetic energy
neuropathy in her feetthat progressed to             amputations are preventable if minor prob-      that penetrate three inches into each foot.
gangrene. Finallyit became so advanced               lems are caught and treated in time.               'These are powerful magnets - refriger-
that she amputation - and                   So far,there are no good remedies for dia-   ator magnets won't work," says Michael
died on the day she was to undergo surgery.          betic neuropathy, but the nationwide study      Weintraub, M.D., the clinical trials princi-
She was 67 years old.                                                                                             pal investigator.
  Sharon Wade, now 48, herself                                                                                       Study participants must use
was diagnosed with diabetes                                                                                       the device for a total of two
eight years ago and developed                                                                                   hours a day, for 90 days. Some
neuropathy about five years                                                                                     say the energizer feelslike a foot
later. So when she learned of a                                                                                 massager. It has no side effects
study involving magnetic energy                                                                                 and is painless; most users say
as a treatment for diabetic neu-                                                                                they feel only a mild vibration.
ropathy, she took notice.                                                                                       However, because ofits magnet-
   Neuropathy, or nerve damage,                                                                                 ic field,pregnantwomenand .-
affiicts 50 percent to 70 percent                                                                               people with heart pacemakers
of the 21 million Americans with                                                                                are excluded from the study.
diabetes. The causes haven't                                                                                       Dr. Weintraub, clinicalprofes-
been completelyidentified,but                                                                                   sor of neurology at New York
theyarethoughtto includepro-                                                                                    Medical College in Valhalla,
longed exposure to the high                                                                                     N.Y., became interested in the
blood sugar levels characteristic                                                                               power of magnets after a few of
of diabetes, genetic factors, and                                                                               his patients claimed they
damage to the blood vessels that                                                                                relieved pain. Hes been studying
carry oxygen and nutrients to                                                                                   themfonnallysince    1996, when
the nerves.                                                                                                     he asked 14 patients with severe
  Whatever the cause, neuropa-                                                                                   diabetic neuropathy to wear
thy is a serious complication.    Its                                                                            magnetized insoles in their
symptoms      include numbness,                                                                                 shoes or socks 24 hours a day,
tingling and pain that patients                                                                                  even while asleep. After four
describe as shooting, burning or                                                                                months, nerve conduction
stabbing. Neuropathy may also                                                                                   improved by an average of 75
cause muscle weakness and loss                                                                                  percent, with a corresponding
of reflexes, especially at the                                                                                   decrease in feelingsof numb-
ankle, leading to changes in gait. Foot defor-       that Sharon Wade joined is evaluating a         ness,pain, tinglingand especiallyburning.
mities, such as hammertoes and the col-              promising new approach involving pulsed         He repeated the study in another small
lapse of the midfoot, may occur. Blisters and        magnetic energy.                                group ofpatients,with similarlyencourag-
sores may appear on numb areas of the foot              The energy is provided through a device      ing results.
and become      infected   because      the injury   called the BiaxialBody Energizer. The ener-        Next, Dr. Weintraub studied magnet-
goes unnoticed. Without prompt treatment,            gizer resembles a bathroom scale, with two      ized insoles forpatients with moderate to

44     NEUROLOGY NOW.            MAY/JUNE 2006
                                                                                                  A Proactive      to
severe neuropathy. He randomly assigned
patients to wear either the magnetized
                                                 with foot ulcers before and after their par-
                                                 ticipation in the study:                          Managing
insole or a sham device. This trial was
double-blind, meaning that neither he nor
the participants knew which group they
                                                    The participants may not know if they
                                                 have a real or sham energizer, but some vol-
                                                 unteers - including Sharon Wade - are
were in until the study was over. Patients       already reporting benefits.
who wore the real device experienced a              "I've seen a remarkable improvement,"
statistically significant decrease in pain,      says Wade. "My feet used to become
burning and tingling, as well as a signifi-      crampy and swollen, and I had trouble
cant improvement in walking, over the            walking, but no longer."
individuals in the comparison grQup.                It took a little over a month for Wade to

   "The analgesic effects were ~equal to or      see any effects. But relief came faster for
better than those achieved with painkilling      another study participant, Carol Thorn.
drugs, and there were no side effects,with a        "My feet stopped burning and tingling
device that costs about $100 apiece," Dr.        within a day or two," Thorn says.
Weintraub reports.                                  Thorn was diagnosed with diabetes                                         ALZHEIMER1S
   For the current trial, Dr. Weintraub and      about 15 years ago, when she was 50. She                                   "..                       ~             ,._....-

his associates want to recruit 250 volun-        finished her official three-month stint                                         DISEASEI
teers with moderate to severe neuropathy         with the device just before last Christmas.                                                              Paul Dash, MD
                                                                                                                                   Nicole   ViJlemarette.Pittman,   PhD
at 12 to 15 university diabetes centers and      She still doesn't know if her unit was a
10 private medical groups nationwide.            sham or the real thing, but she found it so
This stUdy also is double-blind,   so the par-   helpful nevertheless that she kept it and                                                                                     "
                                                 continues to use it. Volunteers are               ~AMERJCANAC\DfMYOF
                                                 allowed to keep the device, which is man-
                                                                                                  "AN    Pllttss        QUAllr.,
                                                 ufactured and provided by the Nikken                                                            0'       l I r [   G uli

                                                 Corp. of Irvine, Calif.
                                                    The energizer weighs three pounds. Its
                                                 light and convenient enough for Wade, who               Alzheimer's
                                                 lives in the Bronx, to take to her job as a
                                                 social worker so she can use it for the requi-           Disease
                                                 site two hours a day while sitting at her
                                                 desk. Thorn, who lives in Fishkill, N.Y.,                            M
                                                                                                       ByPaulDash, D,and
                                                 took hers on her Christmas vacation: She          Nicole                    PhD
Three magnets in each of the                     simply packed it in her suitcase and
energizer's footplates are designed              checked it on the airplane.
                                                                                                  "This book is an essential
to deliver therapeutic waves.
                                                    "Wewant to offerthe diabetic population       tool for all families coping
ticipants are randomly assigned either to a      a truly effective treatment for neuropathy,"
                                                                                                  with Alzheimer's disease."
working energizer or a sham device that          Dr. Weintraub says. 'We're hoping that this            -Austin J. Sumner,MD
feels as if it's working but is not actually     study willprovide the objective evidence we             Chair,AANFoundation
 delivering any magnetic energy: Neither         need to demonstrate that the device relieves
they nor any of the investigators will know      neuropathic symptoms."
which type of device they've received until        Carol Thorn, for one, is convinced.
                                                                                                    ~CAN                     OF
the study is completed.                            "The machine is great," she declares. "I                        NEUROLOGY
   The participants undergo an objective         don't want to let it go."              1m!
assessment of nerve function just before                                                                            OrderOnline
they start using the device and again when       For more information on this trial,                     
the 90-day study period is up. They are also     contact Dr. Weintraub at 914-941-0788
required to keep a daily log in which they       or                                          OrderByPhone
rate their pain on a scale ranging from 0                                                                                8
                                                                                                                     (800) 79-1960
(nonexistent) to 10 (most severe). In addi-      For clinical trials listed in the AAN's
tion, the researchers will compare biopsies      joumaiNeurology, visit
taken from 40 randomly selected patients         www.neurology.orglclinicaltrials.                                  (651)695-2717


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