She Invented Buzzy, the Drug-Free Pain Relief Device
Pain specialist Amy Baxter couldn’t protect her own son from the distress of injections. So she invented a device that would do the job by Jillian Keenan
During the start-up phase, Baxter and her staff worked out of the basement of her Atlanta home, aka “the hive.”
Photograph: Jessica Haye & Clark Hsiao
In January 2010, Dr. Amy Baxter, 44, a pediatric emergency physician and pain specialist, received an unexpected visit at her Atlanta home from a woman named Karen Mae Sledge. Sledge had found Baxter’s address on the Web, she explained, and assumed it would lead to an office building, not a family home. Then Sledge handed Baxter a basket of presents. “I just wanted to thank you for helping my dad,” she said. “He was about to stop dialysis because he found it so painful.” But Sledge had given him the revolutionary pain-reduction device that Baxter had invented, and it enabled him to manage his lifelong needle phobia. Her father agreed to continue with the treatment.
For Baxter, who as a child used to sit outside her home hoping that an injured person might pass by “so I could jump in with my Band-Aids and save the day,” Sledge’s story was deeply gratifying. Initially, Baxter invented Buzzy (buzzy4shots.com) to help kids bear their immunizations. “But this visit was the first time I had an inkling that there were other people who might need Buzzy more than kids getting shots,” she says.
The gadget, about the size of a computer mouse, looks like a large plastic bee. A gel pack is attached to the underside of the bee, and right before getting a shot, you press the frozen pack against your skin a few inches from the injection site. When the device is switched on, Buzzy gently vibrates. Like magic, the area goes numb and you feel the needle much less. “The sensations of cold and vibration desensitize the nerves, thereby dulling or eliminating the pain from the shot,” Baxter says.