A noninvasive device called Hummingbird, which is placed under the front part of the feet and emits a gentle vibration, increases daily activity of people with fibromyalgia, while reducing muscle pain, according to its developer.
Hummingbird, created by the North Carolina-based company Vital Motion, provided pain relief and led to a 72.7% increase in daily activity levels among its users, as shown by the number of steps recorded on a pedometer, the company recently reported.
The soleus muscles (one in each calf), when contracted, ensure a proper blood flow from the lower body up through the heart and into the brain.
Failure to contract means that blood accumulates in the legs, leading to the painful symptoms that characterize fibromyalgia and other diseases linked to poor circulation.
Contrary to other devices, which use electrical impulses, Hummingbird uses a micro-mechanical vibration to stimulate the nerve endings in the plantar (or front part) of the feet. The vibration causes the soleus muscles to contract, helping blood flow to the rest of the body and avoiding the pain and irritation commonly experienced with electrical stimulation devices.
A small, lightweight device, the Hummingbird is designed to be used at a patient’s convenience, at home or at work, requiring just 15 to 30 minutes once or twice per day.
“Many medical device therapies available in the market are designed to address various chronic pain indications, most are alternatives to suppressing the intake of opioids or other pain medicines,” Bradley Saveth, co-founder of Vital Motion, said in a press release. “In contrast, the Hummingbird is a specialized therapy that has been scientifically evaluated and clinically demonstrated to address the critical physiological disabilities strongly correlated with fibromyalgia.”
The Hummingbird App, available for any smartphone or tablet, allows patients to control the stimulation time and vibration levels.
“Vital Motion has taken the lead in the fibromyalgia therapies market by developing its Hummingbird device that can deliver vibrational plantar stimulation therapy to address a broad range of conditions like fibromyalgia,” said Arjunvasan A, a healthcare analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
“The Hummingbird is an industry innovation because it stimulates the foot’s plantar nerve endings by delivering varying intensities of vibrational energy, thereby increasing the function of the calf muscle pump. This unique type of therapy is gradually being accepted by the community of pain physicians as an emerging standard of care for treating fibromyalgia symptoms,” he added.