Product Review: Quell Wearable Pain Relief Technology

I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network.  Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own, and I was in no way influenced by the company. 

Rewind to the end of the last month, and some of you may remember the blog post I published regarding my personal struggles with chronic pain; how living with constant pain has begun pass for attempting to survive catastrophic and torrential storms.  I have made many attempts to try and ‘fix’ the excruciating pain which radiates throughout my legs, but nothing has worked, and the prescribed medications that I have so far tried has done little to relieve the neuropathic pain.  This year, after seeing a specialist in London, a visit to a chronic pain clinic has now been put in motion, but after months of wrestling with intense pain, I am in need of some respite from it since yesterday!

Then in August of this year, I was contacted by Chronic Illness Bloggers who asked if I was interested in reviewing the Quell.  I had researched many products which claimed to alleviate chronic pain, however, in many of the cases, the wearable technology is worn at the site of the pain which raises questions on where to place the device when the neuropathic pain radiates throughout both legs.

But Quell solves this problem, as no matter where in the body the pain originates the Quell is worn on the upper calf to stimulate sensory nerves, tapping into the body’s natural pain relief response.  In other words, by stimulating these sensory nerves in your calf, sends a message to the brain to block pain signals, which in turn leads to widespread pain relief.

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What is the Quell? 

The Quell is an entirely safe, natural and drug-free pain relief device that is used to manage chronic pain.  It is, therefore, safe to wear 24/7 for round the clock pain relief, for those like myself who suffer from constant chronic pain, and suffers from disrupted sleep because of it.

The device sits inside a pocket of the adjustable exercise band (also included in the Quell starter pack) and which an electrode strip is snapped merely on at the back of the small, thin device.  These electrode strips (which I received a month;s supply of) are placed onto the skin of the upper calf, approximately 1 to 2 inches below the knee and once the band is fastened in places with velcro and the device is switched on you are ready to go!

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How the Quell looks on my leg!

Calibrating the Quell 

However, before using the Quell for the first time and to continue receiving the optimal pain relief for your personal needs, the device needs to be calibrated.  This quick and easy step is done by sitting with your feet on the floor and knees bent at a 90°.  Then to begin the calibration, you hold the button on the device until the lights start running back and forth.  Release the button and then any time you feel a slight tingle, press the button.  The calibration is complete when the lights on the device go off, and you are then ready to start full therapy sessions.

This step could not be quicker or easier to complete! In fact, I calibrated my Quell device before leaving on a four-day break with a local bus company with my Mum.  The pain had been so severe that I was concerned about the impact it would have on my time away, especially with the number of trips on the itinerary.  I was relieved when I received my device on the day before we were due to leave, in the hopes it would have a positive effect on my pain.  It didn’t take long at all to calibrate the device, and it was then ready to use while we were travelling to our destination on the bus!

Is the Quell easy to use?

In the simplest terms, yes, it is straightforward to use, and even those who may be technologically challenged would find the Quell uncomplicated!  All that is required is to put the device, press the button to switch it on and then leave it and go about your day as usual! The Quell delivers therapy sessions for an hour, then gives you a break for 60 minutes, before starting another cycle automatically (there is also a Quell app which can be used to change the frequency of the sessions).

There are four different options: the standard is a therapeutic session that lasts 60 minutes, followed by an hour break before restarting; manual in which again has a 60 minute therapy time but you have to start following sessions manually.  A low therapeutic dose is a 30-minute session that restarts after a 60-minute break, and a high therapeutic treatment which involves a 60-minute session and restarts after a 30-minute break.

After four therapy sessions, it will buzz at the end to remind you to let the skin on your leg for a breather.  If you feel the need to continue receiving sessions, however, as I had done when the pain was at its worst you can switch the device to the other leg.

It may be necessary, as everyone’s experience of pain is different, and so Quell has designed the device as such that you can also increase or decrease the intensity of the therapy that the device delivers.  To do this, you hold the button on the device down until you see all six lights flashing.  Keep holding until the intensity reaches a level you are satisfied.  To decrease the intensity, press the button once.  To switch the device off completely, press the button four times.

The App

As previously mentioned, the Quell also works with an app that is available on smartphones (available in Apple App Store and Google Play). All in all, I much prefer using the app as it saves so much time in the mornings when I want to start using the device as part of my pain management.  All I have to do is press the start button and voila! However, while I was away, I did appreciate having the option to operate the device manually as I wanted to save precious battery life on my phone to take plenty of pictures of our trip.

Although, to my surprise, when connecting the Quell via Bluetooth to my phone in the night to track my sleep, it didn’t use as much battery life as I was anticipating (great to know if you rely on your phone as much as I do!).  I read other reviews in which they had used the app for Apple devices and had a feature that reminded you when to change the electrodes (which last approximately 2 weeks) however this particular feature isn’t available on the app for Android smartphones, and which hopefully the developers will rectify.  Another aspect that is sadly missing from the Android app is seeing the level that the intensity is currently at; no numerical data available to know how high or low the intensity is at which makes adjusting to your preferred level in future sessions difficult.

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The Dashboard which controls the device

The app is also helpful as it notes how many regimens you have had that day (Quell recommends that you have at least 2 to 3 full therapy sessions for the first month). The Quell app also lets you know the amount of battery life left on the device, so you know if and when it needs to be recharged.

An added benefit is that it can also keep a record of how your pain has been over the previous 24 hours (asking to rate your pain, how much it has interfered with sleep, how much it has interfered with activity levels as well as mood).  It also has a feature which enables you to track sleeping patterns and activity levels all of which are excellent indicators if and how Quell is helping your pain.

My Personal Experience of Using Quell 

To note, the Quell does not work right away for everyone, and sometimes it can take weeks of use until you start feeling the full benefits of the device.  However, after hours of wearing the Quell, I began to feel a reduction in the severe pain I had been experiencing during that time.

It is not a magic cure and pain is still a constant aspect of my everyday life. There are still days, however, when I am in agony due to neuropathic pain but it helps to take the edge off the pain, and the Quell is now a permanent feature in my pain management toolbox.  When you have been in constant pain as long as I have even a little relief is welcome.

I have found that the Quell has been much more successful in alleviating the joint pain I have been experiencing in my knees.  It is not a pain we know the reason for, although I suspect it is as a result of all the falls I have had over the years, as I often fall onto my knees.  If for whatever reason, I am not able to use the Quell, I notice that the pain in both knees exacerbates.

The first night have I started using the Quell; I decided to wear the device overnight to track my sleep, especially since pain has a significant impact on my ability to sleep, sometimes only managing a couple of hours.  So, imagine my surprise when I checked the app and found that I managed 8 hours and 24 minutes of precious sleep!; more amazing since I was also sleeping in a strange bed.

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A great night’s sleep has been a welcome side effect from using the Quell.

At first, I was sceptical in wearing the device, as I often wear slim-leg jeggings, and wondered whether I would even be able to pull them up over the device.  But this proved not be an issue at all as the Quell is slim-lined in design.

Then I worried that everyone will notice this strange looking device strapped to my leg, leading to many questions about what it was and why I was wearing it.  Living with an illness and subsequent disability that has become more visible, I get asked a lot of questions.  But we are all more than our illness and disabilities, and therefore wish that people see beyond our physical limitations.  However, as the device is slim it was less noticeable than I had anticipated and during the month I have worn it, nobody has seemed to notice the device strapped to my leg.

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Even wearing slim-leg jeggings, the Quell is hardly noticeable!

The only problem I encountered was when having to swap the electrode to the other leg, allowing breathing room for my skin, which proved difficult as I was out all day on trips and I was wearing my usual slim-leg jeggings.

Another positive of the Quell is for its incredible battery life.  Considering that I am using it for the majority of the day, and overnight, the battery lasted for around a week.  The Quell came with a charger adapter and charger cable and has only taken approximately 2 hours to recharge.

What does a Quell Session feel like?

It doesn’t hurt at all and just feels like a vibrating and tingling sensation on your leg.  With my neurological condition, I also experience constant trembling feelings and have found that the vibrations and tingling reactions the device produces do, in fact, worsen the trembling which is unnerving when walking while out of the house.  Most people report forgetting they have it on but because of this, this is a rare occurrence for me.

I have also found that as someone who suffers a lot of falls due to my neurological condition, I have had issues with accidental disconnections with the Quell device, and have needed to excuse myself to the bathroom to reconnect the device to the electrodes and to resume a therapy session.

Accidental disconnections is also a regular occurrence when I wear the Quell overnight. Many times I have discovered the device has failed to record the length of time I have spent asleep as during the night as the Quell has disconnected (although I am one of those persons who is forever tossing and turning!)

Although the Quell is no cure for the constant pain, I experience I have found I have been able to do more than I would otherwise.  During our time away, I found that I was able to walk further and do more than I was anticipating before leaving for our trip.  Also, I have noticed that I have been able to increase the time spent on the bike at the gym.  Admittedly, I have experienced payback of pain afterwards, but it hasn’t been as bad before using the Quell.

Cost of the Quell 

The main drawback to the device is the price.  At $249 (around £197) it is an investment.  However, the company does offer a 60-day money back guarantee, so you are able to recuperate the cost if the product isn’t suitable or if it just doesn’t work out for you.

There are also additional costs to consider, as previously mentioned the electrodes need to be replaced every two weeks; for a month’s supply, it costs $29.95.  With the starter kit, I was sent a one month supply of the standard electrodes and a month supply of their new sport electrodes which are designed to absorb moisture so are perfect for those who exercise regularly or play sports.  I have found that the sport electrodes do last much longer than the regular electrode.

I found that the blue gel on the regular electrode became tatty quite quickly, although they still have lasted the full two weeks before needing to be replaced.  Admittedly, to save further cost, I have pushed one to three weeks of use.  Although I wouldn’t recommend it as the Quell felt like a painful stinging sensation, instead of the usual buzzing feeling, and was probably because the electrode became worn out.

The band also gets worn and stretched quite quickly, and the velcro loses its strength, and sometime in the future will need to be replaced, which is yet another cost!

Final Thoughts 

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Despite the shortcomings that I have experienced with using the Quell, I still think that the Quell is well worth it; it has become my favourite tool to help manage my chronic pain.  If someone were to ask my opinion on the Quell, I would have no hesitations in recommending it for someone living with chronic pain.  Quell offers a drug-free approach to pain management, which I appreciate as I often have stomach cramps after taking pain medication.

Like with anything, I know that it would not help everyone, but with the 60-day money back guarantee, it’s definitely worth trying.

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