The Bridge Device
A new device designed to help with the pain during withdrawal from opiates could become another important tool in helping deal with heroin/opiate addiction in the county.
The device attaches to the ear.
The device, called the BRIDGE, was first used and developed by Dr. Arturo C. Taca, Jr., along with by an Indiana company, Innovative Health Solutions.
The BRIDGE has been FDA cleared to be used in acute or chronic pain. As a tool, The Bridge can help with one of the most challenging aspects of overcoming an opioid addiction - the pain during the initial detox.
A little larger than a half dollar, the Bridge fits behind the ear and sends electrical feedback to the brain, blocking the pain signals that are associated with withdrawal of opiates during detox. A person wears it for five days, long enough to make it through withdrawal, before turning to long-term assistance to stay sober, such as counseling and medication-assisted treatment such as Vivitrol. INSYnergy has pioneered a patent-pending process called The INSynergy-Bridge Protocol which transitions persons in withdrawal from opiates more comfortably onto Vivitrol, a long acting, monthly injection of naltrexone, which is non-addicting and non-divertible.
The Bridge uses neuro-modulation, or electrical stimulation of specific areas of the brain, to counteract the effects of opioid medications for people who have become dependent on legally prescribed pain medications or heroin.
About Opiate Withdrawal
Addiction to opioids, a class of drugs that includes heroin and prescription painkillers such as oxycodone and fentanyl, has skyrocketed in recent years across the United States. About 1.9 million people have prescription painkiller use disorder, and 435,000 are regular users of heroin, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Once addicted, stopping can be daunting. A body that has become used to regular infusions of a drug will start producing a cascade of physical symptoms if it is denied that drug. Symptoms include muscle aches and pains, diarrhea, shakes and vomiting. Many people who try to quit using the drugs start using again within a few hours if only to ease the pain.
How it The Bridge Works
The Bridge works by hitting the body where addiction starts: the brain. The device fits behind the ear and sends electrical feedback to the brain, blocking the pain signals. The Bridge takes advantage of 4 cranial nerves that are well represented in the auricle. Cranial nerves 5, 7, 9, and 10. These nerve go back to the brainstem and into the spinal cord and disrupts efferent and afferent pain signals. The Trigeminal nerve (5) has its nucleus in periaqueductal grey area of the spinal cord. This area controls the descending pain tracts and are rich in endorphin producing cells. The Vagus nerve (10) controls autonomic nervous system and stimulating the vagus nerve increasing the para-sympathetic nervous system. In concert, the pain associated to opiate withdrawal is dramatically reduced upon placement of the Bridge. Our studies show that 85% of the symptoms are reduced within 30 minutes, and most of it occurs within the first 15. Our recent imaging study shows a 50% reduction of firing activity in the amygdala, the area of the brain responsible for fear and anxiety. The device isn’t recommended for those with pacemakers or those who are pregnant or have a history of seizures