Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

December 18, 2017
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Blow your worries away

Stress is a constant companion for many physicians these days and, I might add, for medical publishers as well. I figure that anything that might help ease that pervasive sense of background anxiety is worth a try.

The StressEraser from Helicor is a nifty, electronic unit in brushed stainless steel, the size of a pack of cards. The theory is that it teaches you to breathe like a yoga master and so relieves stress. It comes with a pedigree as a medical device and a flock of Internet reviews, many of them very positive.

To use it, you insert a finger into the device and an infrared detector monitors tiny variations in your pulse, your Heart Rate Varibility (HRV). You get instant feedback on an LCD screen which displays wave patterns that are affected by the way you breathe. Tiny arrows along the top of the screen and a small beep which signals when to exhale, help you control the wave pattern.

The aim is to produce a wide, smooth curve. The device awards points for each breath rated on a scale from one to three bars — one point for three bars, ½ point for two bars and zero points for a single bar.

Obtaining a good steady curve is relatively easy for most people with a few minutes of practice. Slow steady breathing is the trick. To optimize your breathing, the gizmo allows you to adjust the length of your exhalation from one to nine seconds. For me six seconds achieved a steady wave and consistent three-bar score.

For optimum results, Helicor suggests you use the device three times a day for five minutes, or 30 points, with a 15-minute-long, 100-point session before going to sleep. The device records your total score day by day. The recommendation is that you try it for 30 consecutive days to see if it reduces your stress levels. And if it doesn’t, you can send it back for a full refund — which takes some of the stress out of shelling out the US$299 purchase price.

Over the years, I’ve practised many ways of reducing stress — meditation, running, stopping to smell the flowers. They’ve all been a help, as was the StressEraser.

Used according to instructions, it will help calm you. Remember you have to get those steady curves going and use it regularly. One physician found his breathing pattern so jagged he decided the unit was defective and sent it back in frustration. Before you buy, you might want to have a look at the excellent owner’s manual at www.sharperimage.com/all/en/manuals/products/hc001.pdf.

The StressEraser is not yet available in Canada, but Helicor has begun applying for international medical device certifications. You can pick one up at Sharper Image in the States.

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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