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A medical needle phobia device a design winner

A needle phobia device a daesign winner
Photo: Needle phobia device a daesign winner
A medical device that dulls the pain and anxiety for people with a fear of needles has been announced a category winner at the 2021 Good Design Awards.

COVID or otherwise, who even knew trypanophobia was a thing, right?

For most people, the unnerving sight of something so sharp aimed straight at them as they wait to be jabbed is unpleasant enough. Not to mention the nasty little sting that often becomes a bruise.

Yet for one in 10 of us, an actual psychiatric fear of needles is real.

Enter NeedleCalm, an innovative sliver of medical technology designed to reduce the pain and anxiety associated with injections whether they be directed at the arms, abdomen, buttocks or thighs.
Its Australian makers reckon the device, which takes advantage of a natural process called the 'gate control theory of pain' can be used in over 60 per cent of the 128 million needle procedures carried out each year.

Applied like a plaster to the patient's skin at the puncture site, it creates a larger sensation that blocks the sharp pain of a needle as it breaks into the body.

Described as "a band-aid on steroids", NeedleCalm was more than four years in development.

Yet all the hard work was worth it, according to product founder Lauren Barber, with the TGA-approved invention this week announced as a category winner at the 2021 Good Design Awards.

Ms Barber formed the idea for NeedleCalm while working as a registered nurse and noting first-hand just how common trypanophobia is and how much it slows up the health system.

She then decided to act on it after having to undergo surgery because of a needle-stick injury.

Little did she know just how relevant it would become with the onset of the pandemic.

"It's exciting to have the opportunity to help Australia close the gate on COVID-19, particularly with the prospect of helping vaccinating children in a safer, faster and less stressful way for kids, parents and medical practioners alike," Ms Barber said.

"However, COVID is just one minor part of the potential to improve healthcare take-up and efficiency long-term, with NeedleCalmTM able to be used in an estimated 76 million needle procedures in Australia each year."

The Good Design Awards jury hailed NeedleCalm as "a positive approach to overcoming a common problem".

"The discreet aesthetics of the device and its similarity to a sticky plaster may assist in uptake and the technique of activating alternate pain receptor pathways is clever too," they said.

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