A battery-powered gadget first used in veterinary medicine could help alleviate some of the worst symptoms of a long Covid-19 epidemic, a study has shown.
The Arc4Health bracelet is the size and shape of a TV remote control and sits in a Velcro cuff – similar to a blood pressure monitor – which is then strapped around a leg or arm.
Known as microcurrent therapy, it emits a weak electrical current into the skin, and 53 percent of long Covid patients who wore it for three hours a day for three months said they felt less tired.
Other symptoms of the condition, such as shortness of breath and altered senses of smell and taste, also improved, the study found.
Fifty-four Arc4Health users with long Covid-19 – which affects around two million Britons – answered a survey about their symptoms at the start of the study. Fatigue was the most commonly reported problem, but also the most reduced at the end of the twelve-week study.
The Arc4Health bracelet is the size and shape of a TV remote control and sits in a Velcro cuff – similar to a blood pressure monitor – which then straps around a leg or arm
Patients with long Covid-19 period are offered treatment using the electronic device developed to heal injured racehorses
Previous clinical trials have suggested that the treatment can relieve joint pain and heal sprains and strains faster. It is often used to treat injured racehorses.
Doncaster-based GP Dr. Dean Eggitt says it “makes sense” that the device has some benefit, adding: “It could be a placebo effect, which is a powerful thing, but we also know that sending a weak electrical current through the skin relieves pain locally and improves muscle strength over time.
‘It’s not available on the NHS because there isn’t enough evidence to show it works, but knowing this it’s up to patients whether they want to pay for it.’
The vast majority of long Covid patients say they have been suffering from the condition for more than a year. However, because the exact causes of the persistent problems some suffer from are not clear, doctors remain in the dark about how to treat them.
The Arc4Health device has changed the life of Madeleine Duncan-Booth, 52, from Berkshire. She says: ‘Before I got Covid last year, I would describe myself as a very fit and active person, running and swimming two or three times a week, and also practicing yoga.
‘Long Covid-19 has disabled me – a 25-minute walk can leave me exhausted for a few days.
‘I bought the Arc4Health device and felt a huge shift back to normal within three weeks. Recently I swam twice, took a long walk and shopped for an hour and a half without feeling tired.’