Sense Relief is a leading app designed to ease nausea and morning sickness. The uses proven acupressure therapy to provide drug-free nausea treatment.
The acupressure therapy is applied via the median nerve to stimulate the median P6 point. Apple Watch users can use the app to generate vibrations out of the watch’s taptic engine to seek relief.
Who can use Sense Relief?
According to the app makers, the Sense Relief App™ may be suitable for you if you are suffering from pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting, known as morning sickness, (PRNV), motion sickness, virtual reality (VR) related nausea, hangover induced nausea, or any feelings of vomiting, queasiness, or retching.
Studies have found that up to 75% of patients treated with P6 acupressure gained relief from morning sickness symptoms.
Clinical trials have shown the efficacy of nerve stimulation for relief of Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Nerve stimulation therapy is effective in reducing nausea and vomiting and promoting weight gain in symptomatic women in the first trimester of pregnancy.
The Sense Relief app is currently available on the Apple app store.
The app is free to download so give it a try and see if it can help you with motion sickness and general nausea.
Meet Matthew Bucklin and the Sense Relief app team
Sense Relief has received an innovation grant from the UCSF-Stanford Pediatric device consortium for its technical development and clinical study of an anthemic digital therapeutic based on the Apple Watch.
We sat down with Matthew Bucklin to learn more about this innovative app. Matthew is the co-founder behind this app with roots in Stanford’s Byers center of Biodesign.
What is your background in digital health, and what motivated you to pursue Sense Relief?
I founded The Quit Company in 2010, a consumer smoking cessation business. In the last two years of running it, I began to explore and see the power of digital tools in healthcare. I created an eCommerce marketplace for smokers called QuitMarket.com and programmed an AI-powered chatbot, Doctor QuitBot, to ask shoppers questions and make products recommendations. The questions were intended to categorize the smoker based on the factors for that individual’s dependency.
The recommendations were meant to be the most effective product for that type of smoker, all based on the latest clinical research. The AI programming was based on a decision tree, and at the end of the questions, the program would auto-populate a shopping cart for that person with the most effective products. That program didn’t take off as hoped, although I was able to use my research to develop an assessment framework for smokers and publish the research in Tobacco Use Insights.
After I sold the company in 2019, I met the founders for Sense Relief and quickly realized the potential, not only in using the Apple Watch’s Taptic Engine to deliver an acupressure stimulation to relieve nausea and morning sickness but potentially in much larger maternal health issues and other median nerve stimulation applications, such as insomnia and anxiety.
The Apple Watch and Apple Health on the iPhone can collect up to 140 different health data points, so the research potential is enormous. I was also excited about digital health in general. It is a nascent industry with a lot of opportunities to improve health and bring down costs.
Is the app primarily for users who suffer from morning sickness, or can it be used by others who experience nausea?
Sense Relief has been downloaded thousands of times and is currently used over 100 times each day. Roughly 2/3 of the users are women that experience morning sickness; however, the other 1/3 is a mix of motion sickness, migraine-related nausea, VR-induced nausea, and hangovers.
We have surveyed many of our users who have found relief from nausea for many of the various triggers. One digital health company, Savor Health, provides customized nutrition plans for cancer patients that will recommend Sense Relief to patients with trouble eating due to their debilitating nausea symptoms.
We are currently integrating CardinalKit, an open-source software developed at Stanford to help digital health companies run remote studies.
After the updated programming is complete, we plan to run a more comprehensive study to determine the efficacy of Sense Relief for all of the various triggers of nausea.
How long does it take on average for someone to experience relief once they start the acupressure via the watch haptics?
Acupressure has been extensively studied for nausea relief and shown safe and effective. While not everyone feels relief from nausea, a majority of users do. The studies show that if someone were to get a therapeutic benefit from acupressure, the relief would occur within 3 minutes to 15 minutes.
We programed Sense Relief to run for 3 minutes at a time, with an auto-on feature to restart every 20 minutes. The 3-minute time frame is standard; however, relief from nausea can occur almost immediately. That is the benefit of acupressure over oral antiemetic medications that have a delayed effect.
The usage data is very promising, with over 53% of users continuing to use Sense Relief, and 27% of uses are on auto-mode. This indicates that the majority of users receive a benefit from Sense Relief.
Is Sense Relief exploring other areas in Digital Health beyond the P6 acupressure point?
The next step is to program Sense Relief into the other wearable ecosystems (platforms), such as Fitbit and the Samsung Watch.
After that, we plan to explore other median nerve stimulation therapies beyond nausea. At least six other companies are developing separate wrist-worn wearable devices that apply a median nerve stimulation for nine possible indications and collectively have raised over $84 million.
We believe that it is important for the software to be native to smartwatches that hundreds of millions of people around the world already own and use. Consumers probably won’t want to purchase a separate device, and with all of the emphasis of health on smartwatches, everyone will eventually have one.
How does the app affect the battery on the Watch?
Sense Relief does use battery power to activate the Taptic Engine inside the Apple Watch to apply the acupressure. We have not received any feedback from users about Sense Relief draining the battery on their watch any faster than expected. Users understand that the more they use the feature, the less battery will remain.
We hope that you liked this article in our developer interview series for digital health. MyhealthyApple team not only provides you with news, tips and tricks for smartwatches and other health and fitness gadgets but we also strive to keep up with the latest that is happening in the area of digital health. If there is an area that you want us to focus on and reach out to the developers to learn more, please let us know in the comments.