Kelly Owens entered her teen years playing sports and performing in musicals. A twisted ankle at a Music Man rehearsal sent her on a 15-year downward spiral.
Conventional pharmaceuticals didn’t provide relief
When the swelling in Kelly’s ankle wouldn’t go down, the family sought medical attention. Eventually she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and inflammatory arthritis. Pain, swelling and skin ulcers led to hospitalizations and to trying more than 20 different medications — all without relief.
Eventually, her health failed her to the point that Kelly had to stop the teaching job she loved. Some days she resorted to a wheelchair because the pain was so overwhelming. When her doctors said she would need to stay on steroids for the rest of her life and that she was out of other options, she remembered hearing about the vagus nerve.
Reaching for a ray of hope in new discoveries
Kelly remembered seeing a video about the work of Kevin Tracey, MD, president and CEO of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. Dr. Tracey is the pioneer of the new field of bioelectronic medicine, which uses electrical signals to stimulate or block nerve activity associated with various diseases.
In desperation, Kelly reached out to Dr. Tracey. She discovered a clinical trial being conducted by SetPoint Medical in the Netherlands and moved there for six months once she was approved for the trial.
“Instead of drugs, I was treated with electric impulses through a nerve in my neck, called the vagus nerve,” says Kelly. “It made sense to me: it seemed to me that medicine negotiated with the body, whereas electrical impulses commanded the body.”
Within two weeks of her implant being activated, Kelly realized that while late for an appointment she had run up two flights of stairs without thinking about it. After eight weeks of stimulation, she was in remission and the pain was gone. Soon Kelly was on a treadmill, running two miles a day and working out.
“If it wasn’t for Dr. Tracey and his team’s research,” says Kelly, “I would not have the relief I know today.”