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New spine stimulator allows man to live without back pain



HEMPFIELD, Pa. - A Hempfield Township man said a new spine stimulator is letting him live without back pain for the first time in 14 years.

George Hoak loves to walk, but he could barely take 50 steps without feeling intense pain.

“The pain gets so severe and burning on your hips and across your back and down your legs that you just had to stop,” he said.

He tried medication, physical therapy and surgery, but nothing worked.

“My life changed from thinking I was getting better, to total ability to do nothing,”  Hoak said.

He was willing to try anything, including a brand new spinal cord stimulator.

Hoak was the first person in Western Pennsylvania to receive Boston Scientific’s new Precision Spectra Cord Stimulator System.

A spokesperson for the Institute of Pain Medicine at West Penn Hospital said this device is FDA approved.

“He was looking to us to try to control his pain,” said Dr. Jack Kabazie, the director of the Institute for Pain Medicine.

Kabazie implanted two small wires in Hoak’s back.

The device uses 3-D software and 32 contacts to deliver electrical pulses.

 “We use the device to try and control a chronic pain problem that any one individual patient might have,” said Kabazie.

A remote control lets Hoak and his doctor tailor the treatment.

Hoak said he can actually feel the pulses working.

“I don't feel pain and that's the home run.  That's the thing that really makes it worthwhile,” he said.

Hoak said the stimulator has let him once again enjoy activities that were once painful, like walking, gardening and even mowing the lawn.

For more information on the device, click here, or contact the Institute for Pain Medicine at West Penn Hospital.