Couple Finds Personalized Pain Relief in Identical Devices

Jay and Sandra Aldrich experienced chronic pain for different reasons, but found relief in the same therapy.
Sep 9, 2022 2:35 PM ET

Couple finds personalized pain relief in identical devices

Jay Aldrich doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about his spinal cord stimulator, and that’s one thing he loves about it.

Not only has it brought him relief from the chronic back pain that he couldn’t find through physical therapy, medications, and other pain treatments, but his device doesn’t have to be recharged.

Spinal cord stimulation provides effective pain relief by blocking the pain signals between the spinal cord and brain. But many spinal cord stimulators need to be recharged regularly.

“Recharging would be little bit burdensome for me,” said Aldrich, 74, who received the Vanta™, a recharge-free spinal cord stimulator from Medtronic earlier this year. “When I go to sleep at night, I don’t have to worry or stress about forgetting to recharge the device which is great.”

In 2013, Jay fell on the ice in his driveway, beginning a long journey with chronic back pain. He tried exercise, physical therapy, epidurals, and other pain treatments suggested by his doctor, but none worked.

Desperate for pain relief, he participated in a seven-day trial and then surgery to implant the Vanta™ spinal cord stimulator.

Finding personalized relief

With its extended battery performance, Vanta™ is designed to offer patients like Jay an estimated 5.5 to 7.5 years of pain relief without having to recharge the device.

Vanta™ also personalizes Jay’s pain relief. It adapts to Jay’s movement or body position using a built-in accelerometer and modifies his therapy accordingly. Jay credits the device with relieving much of his pain.

“Vanta™ has truly been a life-changer for me,” said Jay, who has returned to enjoying outdoor activities, including biking and gardening. “It has allowed me the freedom of travel without having to carry a rechargeable system with me.”

A device for the family

Jay’s journey to pain relief even inspired his wife Sandra, who also suffered from chronic back pain resulting from an injury many years earlier.

Though multiple medical treatments failed to relieve her pain, Sandra was reluctant to undergo surgery and have a spinal cord stimulation device implanted.

After seeing the difference the device made in her husband’s pain, Sandra consulted her doctor and underwent a successful seven-day trial of Vanta™.

“Once they put it in, I said to myself, ‘this is a gift,’” said Sandra, who had the device implanted a few weeks later.

Today, the couple credits their spinal cord stimulators with allowing them to return to hiking the trails of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where they serve as volunteers.

But perhaps the greatest benefit is the improved quality of time spent with family.

“To be able to pick up our young grandson, that means everything,” said Sandra. “The future is so awesomely bright because we get to do things that we love and do it together, and I know it sounds corny, but to grow old together happily.”