Effects of pain Scrambler therapy for management of burn scar pruritus: A pilot study

So Young Joo, Yoon Soo Cho, Sung Rae Cho, Dohern Kym, Cheong Hoon Seo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose Pain Scrambler therapy is a patient-specific electrocutaneous nerve stimulation device. Burn pruritus is a common form of chronic and disabling neuropathic pain that is often difficult to treat effectively. Pruritus is mediated by histamines, which are effector molecules stored in mast cells and released locally during injury or inflammation. Burn pruritus may be accompanied by peripheral neuropathic pain, which may result from injury to sensory nerves that hampers conductance of neuronal messages along the large A and small C afferent fibers to the spinal cord. In this study, we investigated the effect of pain Scrambler therapy on burn scar pruritus. Methods Sixteen subjects were recruited to participate in this study. The subjects complained of severe pruritus that was rated at least 5 on the visual analogue scale (VAS), despite treatments with antihistamines, gabapentin medication, and other physical modalities. Each Scrambler Therapy with the MC-5A Pain Scrambler Therapy® technology device was performed for 40 min daily (Monday through Friday) for 10 consecutive days. The stimulus was increased to the maximum intensity bearable by the individual patient without causing any additional pain or discomfort. The numerical rating scale (NRS), 5-D Itch Scale, and Leuven Itch Scale were administered and evaluated immediately before Scrambler therapy, and then immediately after 5 and 10 therapy sessions. Results For all 16 patients, NRS showed mean values of 6.75 ± 1.13 before therapy, 5.06 ± 1.53 after 5 sessions, and 4.13 ± 1.45 after 10 sessions. The NRS values before therapy and after 10 sessions were significantly different (p < 0.05). Pruritus frequency, severity, and consequences scores on the Leuven Itch Scale after Scrambler therapy were also significantly different (p < 0.05). Duration, degree, direction, and disability scores on the 5-D Itch Scale were also significantly different (p < 0.05). Conclusions Scrambler therapy is a non-invasive, non-medicinal modality that significantly reduced burn-associated pruritus. Scrambler therapy should be considered as a treatment option for burn survivors with severe pruritus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)514-519
Number of pages6
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2017 May 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), and funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2014R1A1A4A01007956), Hallym University Research Fund 2012 (01-2012-20), and the Korea Health technology R&D Project, through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI), funded by the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (HI15C1486020015).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd and ISBI

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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