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TENS: A shocking experience

I did get the rental TENS unit. So far, so good... mostly. The trick with this unit is that, like practically every electronic gadget, it has a screen. I worked with my physical therapist on learning the buttons, which is possible since the buttons are like raised circular bubbles. It isn't hard to tell which button does which function, and they're not the "soft" buttons that change function. Up is always up, slight pain is always slight pain.

One can, theoretically, use the tens unit independently as a blind person. Since you go by what feels comfortably tingly, I can technically set the unit.

The unit uses several "programs" that tell you what "shape" the electrical waves are in. The good thing is that unless you change it, the program stays where it was the last time you use it. The unit starts out with no current flowing when you turn it on, so one can theoretically tell how much juice they're giving themselves. The problem is that the buttons that adjust the current don't always go up by whole numbers. Sometimes, they will jump up two, or go up by only a half a step. This makes it hard to self-gage how much juice you're getting. Yes, I can go by feel, but I like to know that both leeds are giving out the same amount of current. Since each leed has two electrodes that go on me, I end up with four electrodes. The problem is that the swelling sometimes masks the feel, and it's hard to follow a leed up to the unit to know for certain that I'm need to adjust the right or left leed.

This will probably be something I learn about in time, and that I'll get a feel for (punn not intended). But it's amazing to me that there are no completely accessible TENS units.

I know AFB's
has reviewed medical products in the past. But I don't think they ever did TENS unit.

It's shocking to me that my physical therapist and I are forced to have me go by feel. It's 2006! Why isn't this equipment more accessible? There has to be a way. Couldn't each leed have a beep for when it goes up by a whole number? Or something?

Sadly, I'm not sure how to make this better. I don't know enough about designing medical equipment. But that being said, I might try to figure out a way to make suggestions to the medical companies. I'm becoming more aware each day that when I advocate for things to be better for my access, if I do it right, I'm paving the road for others as well.

Thankfully, the access challenges don't make it unsafe for me to use the unit. I can tell when I'm giving myself too much or too little current. It's not a bad idea for me to have this, since it really does seem to be helping. It has made me wonder why medical equipment, which may need to be used by people with disabilities isn't accessible. Kind of like how there's a lack of accessible parking, or no elevator at some doctors' offices. My favorite was an orthopedists office with stairs. Yeah, that's real smart!

Is it possible that medical manufactureres just aren't aware of these struggles. It wouldn't surprise me if it hadn't crossed their minds. I also think there are social factors, i.e., people can't imagine being blind. And, if they were blind, wouldn't that be so horrible that they wouldn't care about the pain?

I've had some conversations that followed this logic. It's not intentional, I don't think. But it really makes me wonder... It's one of those imponderable questions I guess.


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Oct. 14th, 2006 01:21 am (UTC)
You know, it's really too bad they have to go and make everything digital. I had surgery on my knees about fifteen years ago, and after the surgery I was given one of those units. (actually, I still have it somewhere). Anyway, there were absolutely no accessibility issues with it whatsoever. It had two knobs on top, and the box was about the size of a Book Port. one knob controled one set of patches and the other knob controled the other set. I could set it to be a constant pulse or have it on for a couple of seconds and then off for a couple of seconds. I guess it's true that new isn't necessarily better. SMILE!
Oct. 14th, 2006 03:31 am (UTC)
The one good thing about it is the unit I have is that with the various programs, is that it gives me various ways to stimulate the nerves. This is good with RSD, since it seems to have a mind of its own. This is one thought. I don't know what I think yet.

PS: I hope you feel better!
Oct. 15th, 2006 02:17 am (UTC)
it will help if you always put the same side's leeds in the same place each time. with mine, I had 2 on the bottom of my foot and 2 on the top. I put the top ones to the left side's leeds and the right to the bottom. So it was Top Right, Bottom Left, and it was easier to remember which was which.
Oct. 19th, 2006 04:47 am (UTC)
The fun of this is that we're working around scars from the surgery I had, and the hardwware they implanted. I think your idea of putting tee same leeds in the same places is a good one. I will try to do that from now on.

Thanks for the tip!
Oct. 18th, 2006 04:47 am (UTC)
Tens Unit
It sounds like you and I have the same unit. If you press the button quickly and don't hold it, it goes up by one. But I know what you're saying. I often have to turn on the lamp to check. It's actually ok if they're not the same strength, it won't hurt you, but I know you feel compelled to have them the same. Also- after you've had it a few months, tell the rental company to ask your insurance company to buy it for you. It becomes worth it for the insurance company to buy it after you've used it for 3-4 months. Be careful in making sure the unit is off before you peel the leads off, I've gotten juiced in the hands before and it's not fun. Especially when it sticks and if you can't see it- ughhh. Not fun. The tens unit and a pack of ice get me through the worse days. Also if you haven't tried it, the drug Lyrica is really working well for me. From: imhelendt @ imhelendt.wordpress.com
Oct. 19th, 2006 04:51 am (UTC)
Re: Tens Unit
Thanks for the tips! I'm a huge Lyrica fan. That, plus several other medications (because my RSD is rather stubborn) are extremely important.

I'm glad to hear it's working for you. I also use LidoDerm, which are patches. I could never sttand the feeling of sheets hitting my foot, even gently. I use the patches to help with that, and they give me a lot of pain relief. It may be something to check out.

My physical terapist told me to turn the leeds down, then off, so that it would be more comfortable. So, that helps avoid geting a shock treatment in the hands.

Thanks for reading!
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