Medical Sensors Design Conference: New Concepts Open New Avenues of Pain Management


Richard Hanbury suffered a terrible accident in 1992, which left him paralyzed and clinically dead for 8 minutes. He was given a five-year life expectancy and was about to resign himself to death via ever increasing doses of opioids.

Luckily, Richard saw a movie that temporarily took his mind off the excruciating pain he was suffering, and this started a thought process that culminated in the device he invented. His hypothesis was that if he could induce a flow state providing deep relaxation that might allow restful sleep which would then allow the brain to recover over time. He tested out the theory on himself and was amazed to find his pain disappeared, and the effect was prolonged over the long term. As Richard’s research progressed, several experts started writing about new concepts such as brainwave entrainment, HRV feedback and the benefits of hemispheric brain balance.

He first used EEG to monitor the effect the device was having on test subjects, by comparing the EEG trace across the brain hemispheres. He quickly found that by restoring a balance of those signals, patients with a variety of pain and trauma conditions felt significant relief. He also discovered that people vary and that the signals delivered could be fine-tuned to their needs, and this is where he decided to include a personalized care component into the device.

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Richard launched his company Sana to make the technology available to anyone who experiences chronic pain. They have recently started manufacturing the device at clinical trial scale. Importantly, they have now completed one trial in Opioid Use Disorder with excellent results in patients with severe symptoms. Next, they plan to study fibromyalgia pain and chronic pain, classically treated with Opioids, for another population in need of help.

The device now incorporates an HRV sensor that will be able to personalize the effect of treatment to an individual. For some patients, the device is used as an adjunct, another tool in their toolkit. For others, the device can replace pills. 

The team has met with FDA twice, and the plan is to launch in Q4 2019, but this is data dependent and, of course, will require FDA approval. Richard’s vision – and the mission of Sana – is to eliminate pain, and give patients back their freedom. 

Richard Hanbury is the CEO of Sana Health Inc. He is the inventor of Sana, a neuromodulation platform for pain relief and deep relaxation, which he developed to eradicate his own life-threatening pain problem following a spinal-cord injury from a jeep crash near Sana in Yemen in 1992. He has an MBA (Healthcare) from the Wharton School, and DipLaw (College of Law London). He has spent 25 years developing the Sana technology from the original benchtop device to the current device undergoing clinical trials. 

Attend his session, “Helping Solve Chronic Pain: Using HRV Sensing to Personalize Neuromodulation”,  at the Medical Sensors Design Conference, Tuesday, June 25, 2019 from 3:20 pm to 4:00 pm.

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