Device helps ease UW professor's nerve pain

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by KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on August 1, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 5 at 11:15 AM

An unusual surgical treatment has helped treat a University of Washington professor's nerve pain.

For nine years, Yoram Barzel, 81, suffered with every step he took because of nerve damage in his leg. Drugs made him sleepy and confused, but were necessary to control the pain.

Dr. Michael Gofeld had another solution. It looks like a pacemaker with a wire, and it's meant to be placed on a specific nerve to stimulate a pleasant vibration. The idea is to replace one sensation with another.

At home a few days later, Barzel is still healing but anxious to be able to walk faster.

"Right now I can see every blade of grass, I'm walking so slowly," he said.

Barzel's wife Dina can already see the improvement.

"He looks a lot younger that way than when he walks so very slowly," she said.

Barzel said he likes being a bionic man. He can adjust the device's vibration levels to suit him, and it's charged through the skin.

Dr. Gofeld is one of the few doctors performing this procedure. It has been difficult for Barzel to get insurance companies to cover it, because many consider it to be experimental.

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