Developments to Watch
LASERS TO THE RESCUE OF STIFF, PAINFUL WRISTS
Will lasers become an office worker's best friend? Lasermedics Inc. in Stafford, Tex., hopes so. It wants to zap carpal-tunnel syndrome, the painful condition caused by repetitive hand motions, with laser light. The syndrome can plague anyone who works at a keyboard or on an assembly line. Overworked tendons of the wrist swell, pinching the nerves into the palm. The usual treatments are anti-inflammatory drugs, hand splints, or surgery. Lasermedics says its approach is cheap, painless, and may speed healing.
The doctor or therapist holds a flashlight-like laser against the wrist for 33 seconds at three points every other day for five weeks. According to Lasermedics, the low-power light activates pain-numbing endorphins, opens up blood vessels, and lets tendons glide freely. A recent study of 160 General Motors Corp. workers yielded promising results, a preliminary analysis found. Pending FDA approval, Lasermedics hopes to begin selling the devices next year, at up to $8,000 each.EDITED BY PETER COY