"It’s likely acting like direct spinal cord stimulation, raising the gate threshold," he continued. "My hypothesis – and the inventor’s hypothesis as well – is that the therapy resets the damaged nerves at several sites. You see some effect within the first 30 minutes, and that rapid onset suggests biochemical change. And the long-lasting nature of the pain relief suggests remodeling as well as adaptation to the pain."
Clearly, further studies need to be done – free of industry sponsorship, on larger numbers of patients, and with sham-treated controls – in order to fully assess the Scrambler therapy’s efficacy, mechanism of action, and optimal schedule.
"The Scrambler is one of several neurocutaneous direct nerve stimulation techniques that are interesting but absolutely require further testing," Dr. Smith said.
Dr. Charles L. Loprinzi, professor of oncology at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., has started such studies, he noted. "He was at least as skeptical of this as I was, and he’s been impressed with results from this machine," Dr. Smith said, adding that Dr. Loprinzi’s research team is expected to present data later this year at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
Competitive Technologies Inc., based in Fairfield, Conn., has worldwide rights to the device. Dr. Smith reported having no financial conflicts.