Electrotherapy TENS Unit: Effective Pain Relief From Omron


Electrotherapy TENS vs. old injury

Over twenty years ago, I sustained a serious injury to my left ankle, and it hasn’t been quite right since. My ankle problems have been such a constant factor in my life that I have christened the offending joint “Ankle of Doom”. It is because of Ankle of Doom that I have permanently abandoned my dream of running a full marathon. Half-marathon training is challenging enough: for at least a week after my long runs, Ankle of Doom puts me through so much pain that I want to weep.

When I was offered a review unit of an Electrotherapy TENS device from Omron, I thought I may as well give it a try. Between Ankle of Doom and the acute pain that has developed in my shoulders as a result of long hours working in front of a computer, I knew that I would be able to give this unit a thorough workout.

TENS stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. It cannot cure the underlying cause of pain, but it provides temporary relief by preventing the pain message from reaching the brain. Many people who have used TENS therapy have found it to be effective and easy to use.

Compact and easy to use

When my Electrotherapy TENS unit from Omron arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by its size – or lack thereof. The unit is small enough to fit comfortably into my hand, and it is very lightweight. It comes with a belt clip that can be used to attach it to the waistband of almost any clothing, and it feels almost invisible when it’s being worn in this way. This makes it truly portable – there is no need to stay rooted to one spot during your fifteen minute treatments.


The unit is very easy to set up and operate. It runs on two standard AAA batteries which are kept firmly in place by the backing which is removed and reattached with the twist of a coin. It comes with a pair of standard pads complete with a holder, a thin cable with the electrodes (about the thickness and length of the ear buds you use with your iPod), the belt clip, easy-to-follow instructions and a nifty little pouch to store it all in.


There are nine preset modes on the unit. Six allow you to target specific parts of the body (shoulder, lower back, arm, foot, leg, joint), while the other three (tap, knead and rub) are massage modes.

To operate the unit, you simply apply the pads to the part of your body that is hurting, select one of the nine modes, which are clearly labelled on the display, and select the intensity. The intensity can be adjusted at any time during the fifteen minute cycle, and when the time is up, the unit shuts off.

The results

After using the Electrotherapy TENS unit for a couple of weeks, the results are promising. With at least one fifteen-minute treatment per day, the pain in my ankle has been a lot more manageable. I have not had the week-long agony that usually follows long runs. I doubt if I’ll be able to revive my plans to run a full marathon, but I do believe that training for my upcoming half-marathon will be a lot more bearable, and I think that my recovery from the race itself will go a lot more smoothly than usual.


If anything, the unit is a little too effective. It blocks the pain signal so effectively that it is easy to forget that there is a problem, and you run the risk of not being duly cautious of using the affected part of your body. However, combined with rest and whatever other treatment your doctor might recommend, Electrotherapy TENS can make life with an injury a lot more bearable.

This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle. All photos credited to the author.

Disclaimer: A review unit of the Omron Electrotherapy TENS device was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. This post is a true reflection of my experiences to date with this product. The experiences of others may differ. This review is not intended to replace or supplement the advice given by a registered medical professional.


Product Review: Peace Of Mind With TRiLOC

One of the biggest concerns of most autism parents is the safety of their kids. People with autism – both young and old – are a flight risk. They can wander away, driven by motivations known only to themselves, and end up dead or seriously injured. Autism itself does not affect a person’s natural lifespan, but statistics show that people with autism are more than twice as likely as the general population to die of accidental causes, because of their tendency to wander off and get lost.

Thanks to companies like iLOC Technologies, the world is becoming a safer place for people with autism. iLOC has created a mobile personal emergency response solution called TRiLOC, which comes in the form of a GPS tracking watch worn by the individual with autism. A parent or caregiver can then track the movements of the individual using a secure website or a Smart phone app.

The TRiLOC GPS Watch

The TRiLOC GPS Watch

Although it is somewhat bulkier, the TRiLOC has the appearance and functionality of a regular watch. Because of its size, it is designed more for adults than children, but it does come with a spacer that can be attached to the strap to make it fit more snugly on children. Even with the spacer, the TRiLOC is probably not viable for children younger than about nine, since a child with a small hand would be able to slip it off. In any case, the bulk might make it too heavy and uncomfortable for very young children.

The strap fitted with a spacer

The strap fitted with a spacer

When I was told, before receiving the TRiLOC, that the clasp on the strap is childproof, I had my doubts. My child with autism has overcome many things claiming to be childproof, including just about every babyproofing device we tried to install in our home when he was born. However, the TRiLOC definitely lives up to this claim. The clasp is difficult for a typical adult to manipulate, never mind a child with autism. Not only that, it is lockable, and a sturdy cover clips over the top of the lock. I can close and lock the clasp and feel complete confidence that my child will not be able to get it open.

A lockable clasp makes this childproof

A lockable clasp makes this childproof

Before putting the TRiLOC on my son, I wanted to first use it myself to test the functionality. I had some initial trouble using the tracking app on my phone, but the man at iLOC Technologies was extremely helpful in getting me set up. Once I was sorted out, I discovered that I can locate the TRiLOC immediately, at any time, simply by tapping the “Find Me” button.

Map zoomed out for security

Map zoomed out for security

The app can be set up to notify you of the TRiLOC’s location every 60 minutes (default standby mode), every 10 minutes, or every minute (emergency mode). Notifications can come in the form of a text message to one or more cell phones, or an email to one or more email addresses. I have my alerts set up to go to both my text messages and my inbox. Alerts are also logged in the app itself, where they stay until they are cleared.

In addition to the basic alerts, you can set up the app so that you get notified about specific events, for example, the clasp being opened or the individual falling. The alert that really excites me, though, is the overspeed alert. You tell the app what the threshold speed is, and as soon as the TRiLOC starts traveling above that speed, you get notified. You can also set up the app to immediately go into emergency mode when the overspeed alerts kick in. Then you get minute by minute notifications of where the TRiLOC is, complete with full hyperlinked GPS coordinates.

Another nifty feature is the geofence. On the app, you simply select a central point and draw a circle around it. If the TRiLOC leaves that perimetre, you get a notification. Up to four geofences can be set for one device. We have one set up around our house and another set up around my son’s school. The geofence notifications can be turned on and off as needed.

After a period of rigorous testing, the TRiLOC definitely gets my stamp of approval. Right now, we are in Phase II of the testing, which involves my son wearing it on a day to day basis. A follow-up review will be posted, in which I will describe his experiences and those of his teachers and other caregivers in using the TRiLOC, and in which I will talk about more features that haven’t been described here.

In the meantime, it should be noted that although I am describing how TRiLOC can be used for individuals with autism, it can be a lifesaving device for people with other conditions as well. If you are the caregiver for someone with any developmental or neurological disability, TRiLOC is well worth considering.

This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle, published in accordance with my disclosure policy. A TRiLOC unit was provided to the author in exchange for an honest review. All photos are credited to the author.



The Air That I Breathe – Product Review


Last year, I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Kaz Mom Must-Haves event here in Toronto. The event featured a number of products aimed at making the home a healthier place for everyone, particularly during the winter.

Winters are a tricky time in Canada. The weather outside is, to quote the famous song, frightful, and the process of heating our indoor spaces to a point where we can live in them removes every last vestige of moisture from the air. Our skins get dry and itchy, and cold and flu bugs travel through dry air a lot more easily. In addition, we spend more time cooped up inside with little to no natural ventilation, so we experience an accumulation of dust mites and other allergens.

At the Mom Must-Haves event I got to chat with Dr. Dave Greenberg, who had a lot of great advice to offer about keeping families healthy when conditions aren’t great. He said that there are four keys to staying healthy during the winter:

* Make sure everyone in the family washes their hands frequently, with good old-fashioned soap and water
* Use humidifiers (preferably one in each bedroom) to replace the moisture that heating takes out of the air
* Supplement regular housecleaning with air purifiers to keep dust mites and other allergens to a minimum
* If someone gets sick, prevent bugs from spreading by eliminating sharing of towels and dishes and by using a vaporizer beside the sick person’s bed

Kaz was kind enough to give me an air purifier to try out in my own home, and it definitely made the air cleaner than it might otherwise have been. I have been using it for about ten months now, through all seasons, and I absolutely love it. The Honeywell AirGenius Air Cleaner is a tower unit that stands about two feet tall and fits neatly into any corner without taking up any space at all. Mine is tucked into a small space beside a door that I wouldn’t be able to use for anything else anyway. It is highly effective in a fairly large space that includes my kitchen and living room. Not only does it keep the air clean, it is close enough to the kitchen to help reduce cooking odours that could otherwise seem overpowering.

Some of the features of this unit include the following:
* The ability to capture microscopic particles 250 times smaller than the width of a human hair
* 4 speed settings, including a super-quiet one for night-time and a super-strong one for the benefit of family members who suffer from dust allergies
* The option to automatically turn the unit off after 2-12 hours
* A night light with two intensity settings that makes the unit visible in the dark
* A pilot light that indicates when the filter needs to be cleaned
* Oscillation that can easily be turned on or off
* A filter that can be cleaned just by rinsing it under a tap – and it takes no time at all to dry

The AirGenius control panel

The AirGenius control panel

After using the AirGenius for almost a year, during which time Toronto experienced the most extreme winter in recorded history, this is what I have found:

* The incidence of colds in my family has been dramatically reduced. I think we’ve had five colds between the four of us over the last year. Considering how much time we were forced to spend indoors last year, that is impressive.
* Colds haven’t been transferred to other family members, possibly because the number of allergens in the air has been so low, and our immune systems haven’t had to fight the effects of allergies.
* Vacuuming is a lot more effective than it used to be. Previously, carpet dust kicked up by the vacuum cleaner would kind of linger in the air. Now it gets captured by the AirGenius. The air in here has a crisp, clean smell that lasts from one vacuuming to the next.
* My husband has asthma, and he never has a problem with his breathing in the living room. He sometimes notices a difference just by entering or leaving the room.

I only have two tiny quibbles with this unit. First, when it’s operating on its highest setting, it’s a little loud. Second, when it’s operating on a medium to high setting, it blows a little blast of cold air right around the level of the lower legs. The first is something that you just get used to. The second, which was only an issue because my desk is right in line with the AirGenius, was rectified simply by putting the unit at a slight angle.

All in all, I’d have to say that this device has made a big difference to me and my family. I would recommend it to anyone, especially those who suffer from allergies or respiratory ailments.

The Honeywell AirGenius air purifiers retail for approximately $250 at major retail outlets, including Target and Canadian Tire.

This is an original post by Kirsten Doyle, published in accordance with my disclosure policy. I was provided with a review unit of the Honeywell AirGenius in exchange for an honest review.

Photo credit to the author. The appearance of different models may vary slightly.


Product Review: Guideline Eyewear Draft Sunglasses

I have always resisted the idea of running in sunglasses. Somehow, I just cannot get excited by the prospect of having something on my face that adds to the already-abundant sweat and makes my vision go all foggy. Besides, with my fuel belt, my phone, my training watch and everything else, don’t I already have enough stuff when I run? I don’t like the feeling of being bogged down.

But I’m nothing if not open-minded, so when I was offered a pair of Guideline Eyegear Draft sunglasses – specially made to cater for the needs of athletes –  in exchange for a review, I thought, “Why not?”

The first thing that struck me when I received the sunglasses was their weight – or the lack thereof. The glasses I use for watching TV, which look like this…

2013-11-22 14.51.30

… are roughly the same weight as the Draft sunglasses and the case they come in, which look like this…

2013-11-22 14.54.20

Armed with the reassurance that weight was not going to be a problem, I picked a bright sunny day and took the sunglasses out for a test run. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

The sunglasses fit me like a very comfortable glove. I can shake my head around and tilt my head to look at the ground, and they don’t budge. They don’t do that annoying thing glasses sometimes do, of sliding off the bridge of my nose. At the same time, they are not actually tight. The arms curve inward to ensure a snug fit, but then the ends curve very slightly outwards, so as to avoid digging painfully into my head behind my ears.

A couple of other nice features make these sunglasses comfortable for athletes. Like this:

Floating nose pads: no more uncomfy dents on the bridge of my nose!

Floating nose pads: no more uncomfy dents on the bridge of my nose!


And this:

Brow ventilation prevents the glasses from swimming around in a pool of sweat

Brow ventilation prevents the glasses from swimming around in a pool of sweat

Functionally, the glasses are great. I tested them on a bright, bright day, and they did a good job of protecting my eyes from the sun’s glare. They didn’t shift while I was running, and I didn’t have any sweat dripping into my eyes. I had one teeny, tiny complaint: three times during a 5K run, the lenses fogged up. But each time, they cleared by themselves within seconds, without me having to take them off.

Going forward, I will definitely incorporate these glasses into my regular outdoor running outfit. I look forward to trying them out in the winter, on a day when the sun reflects off the snow.

An added bonus? These glasses look pretty darned cool!

2013-10-10 13.35.08

Disclaimer: A pair of Guideline Eyewear Draft sunglasses was provided to me in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this post are my own. Photo credit for all images: Kirsten Doyle



Running: Microlactin As A Race Recovery Aid

When I ran a personal best at last year’s Fall half-marathon, I could barely walk for about a week afterward, and I didn’t even attempt to run for about two weeks. I knew that I should get out and run as soon as possible, that the best cure for tight muscles was motion. But when you have trouble getting from your bedroom to the bathroom without looking like a 200-year-old, the idea of a 5K jog around the neighbourhood is akin to climbing Mount Everest.

Initially I blamed the bag pickup setup at the race. The bag pickup area had been placed at the end of the finish line chute, which meant that twenty thousand runners were forced into a corral the width of a three-lane city street. It was absolute chaos. I stood in that line for two hours waiting for my bag, with no place to stretch or cool down and dehydration making my mind go moggy.

While that experience undoubtedly hindered my race recovery, it could not have been the only factor. All I had to do was cast my mind back to my long training runs. I had been in pain for several days after each one, even when I had not pushed myself particularly hard. There had to be some other factor that was preventing my body from bouncing back in the way that I thought it should.

I was introduced to a supplement called Microlactin in early May, about three weeks prior to the Toronto Womens Half-Marathon. Among the things promised in the promotional material were decreased joint pain and enhanced recovery from strenuous exercise.

Microlactin is made by Swiss Natural, the same company that manufactures the only multivitamin that my body tolerates. The active ingredients are micronutrients found in cow’s milk, that slow the emigration of neutrophils from vascular spaces into the joint spaces.

What’s that? Oh never mind, I didn’t understand that sentence either.

Here’s a translation: the milk proteins in Microlactin help reduce the inflammation associated with joint pain, thereby enhancing mobility and recovery from strenuous exercise. All I had to do was take it for a minimum of two weeks to see these benefits.

Well, this would be interesting. My first thought wasn’t whether this supplement would actually benefit me, but how it would fit in with all of the other stuff I take. My daily regimen already included multivitamins, vitamin D, calcium, and a vitamin B/C complex. Could I really add something else to the mix?

Before taking it, I Googled Microlactin. I didn’t see anything that indicated an adverse reaction to Microlactin, either taken alone or with other supplements. Best of all, it made no difference whether it was taken with or without food.

According to the instructions on the bottle, the recommended dosage is four capsules twice a day. That seemed like an awful lot, especially considering how big the capsules are. I soon found, however, that as long as I swallowed one capsule at a time and washed them down with plenty of water, it wasn’t a problem.

I took my first dose on a Wednesday, and I did a long run the following Sunday. It was an intense phase of my training cycle, so I pushed myself hard on the run. To my amazement, I woke up the following morning feeling nothing more than some residual aching in my hamstrings, which dissipated as the day went on.

Well, this couldn’t be right. No supplement could possibly yield such dramatic results in only four days. The manufacturers themselves made it clear that it could take two weeks to see a difference. I decided that it was a fluke.

The following weekend I ran further, faster and harder. By rights I shouldn’t have been able to get out of bed the next day. Not only did I get out of bed, I was nimble about it. There was none of my usual Monday morning post-long-run moaning and groaning as I got ready for work.

The real test, of course, was the half-marathon on May 27th. By then I had been taking Microlactin for almost three weeks. I was definitely benefiting from it, but now I was going all-out in an attempt to run a personal best.

I ran hard on a tough course, missing my personal best by 25 seconds – no mean feat, especially considering that my iffy ankle was acting up. After the race I was really hurting. My ankle was throbbing painfully and my legs just didn’t want to have anything to do with anything. I hobbled painfully to the designated pickup spot that my husband and I had agreed on prior to the race.

The following morning I woke up, fully expecting to be in a lot of pain. But no! I had some stiffness in my legs, but I was able to move around easily enough. My ankle was very sore, but even that seemed to be better than I would have expected. While I had been focusing on the race recovery aspect of the Microlactin, I had not paid much attention to the fact that it could help ease the  pain of a very old injury.

Two days post-race, I had an appointment with my sports massage therapist. When I walked into his office, he looked up in surprise and said, “What happened? Did you miss your race?”

“Ummmm, no, I was there,” I replied, going on to give him an account of my run.

“So why aren’t you hobbling in here on one leg like you always do after your races?”

During the massage itself, the massage therapist was amazed at how loose my muscles were. When I told him why this was, he joked that Swiss Natural Microlactin was going to put him out of work.

The following day I went out for a leisurely but very comfortable 6km run, and two weeks later, I am ready to start my training program for my autism run in October. This time, I will take Swiss Natural Microlactin throughout my training. Speedier recoveries might just help push me to a personal best time.

(Photo credit: Kirsten Doyle)

(Disclaimer: this review, which is kindly sponsored by Swiss Natural, is based on my own personal experiences and observations. Any statements made here or elsewhere on Running for Autism are not intended to replace the advice of a certified medical professional.)