Minnesota-made system has created long-lasting pain relief in trials.
Medical device company SPR Therapeutics makes a neuromodulation system in Minnesota that can treat pain in a person’s limbs — even limbs that were amputated long ago.
Treating phantom-limb pain is just one of the applications for the Sprint peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) system, a medical device that has been shown to create long-lasting pain relief after the 60-day implant is removed in an outpatient procedure.
Military physicians are interested in the technology — the Department of Defense has been a key early funder of the SPR Therapeutics — but so are civilian doctors who are looking for pain treatment options that falls between passively prescribing opioid drugs and permanent medical procedures like burning away nerves or implanting battery-powered nerve stimulators.
SPR Therapeutics is a privately held company founded in 2010 in Ohio, but today the company has an office in Maple Grove that handles marketing and communications, professional education, reimbursement operations and supply chain management. The company works with an array of contractors in Minnesota, including Nextern and Heraeus Medical, and the Sprint PNS system itself is assembled in the state.
The Sprint PNS is a newer system, with about 1,000 of its temporary leads implanted, including in trials and regular clinical settings. Patients who want the treatment may have to battle their insurer to get it. But the technology has been the subject of several sham-controlled randomized controlled trials and more than 30 peer-reviewed papers and presentations showing long-term relief.
SPR Therapeutics says 74% of patients treated with the Sprint PNS reported a greater than 50% reduction in pain. The recently completed trial of post-amputation pain, considered one of the most challenging forms of nerve pain to treat, found that after four weeks, 58% of Sprint patients and 14% of placebo patients experienced significant pain relief. After 12 months, 80% of blinded patients — patients who didn’t know that they got the real therapy — reported an average pain reduction of 76%.
Ron Schlicht, 58, of Maple Grove, said he hasn’t needed pain medications for his severe leg-pain condition, known as meralgia paresthetica, since getting treatment with the Sprint PNS system nine months ago at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.