Carepoint Group

A unique device should soon be bringing relief to an incredible one in ten people in the UK. But ‘Aurex-3’, a handheld device to limit the suffering of people with the constant ear-ringing condition tinnitus, almost did not make it past a prototype.

One in ten adults in the UK suffer from tinnitus, which has no conclusive medical cause, and 250,000 people in the UK live with intolerable noise levels produced by this condition.

The Bewdley-based Carepoint Group first imported the tinnitus relief aid for sale across Europe after director Dr Mark Brenner met its American founder, the late Alfonso Di Mino, in 1998. The relief aid was featured on the BBC television programme Tomorrow’s World.

The relief aid, Aurex-3, is held up to the main ear bone, where it simultaneously creates vibrations that mirror those experienced by tinnitus sufferers and allows the brain and ear to match the vibrations together, resulting in a reduction of the ringing noise. Used three times a day, the device can help ease the trauma of sufferers and eventually reduce the noise levels of the condition.

Dr Di Mino, who developed his device after suffering from the condition himself, died in 2002 and, after approval from his son Andre Di Mino, Dr Brenner was offered the chance to redesign and relaunch the product, manufacturing it in the UK. With the aims of reducing the price and making it more robust and easier to use, Carepoint teamed up with ultrasound specialists Shrewsbury Medical in a joint venture to source, assemble and package the product for sale across Europe and America.

Organisations in the Polymer Cluster helped provide expertise to reproduce materials used in the original design, including injection mouldings and machined parts, and helped in the selection of the internal electrical devices. “We were 80 per cent there but just needed that extra assistance in terms of knowledge-based engineering and design excellence. There’s no doubt the cluster offered that joined-up thinking approach to provide a positive channel of expertise to help us succeed. It is definitely the way forward to help other companies achieve their aims,” says Mark Brenner.

Now that the design has been approved, working prototypes have been produced and a small production run of 200 assemblies is planned for Q2 this year. Fifty of these will be assigned for clinical trials, whilst the others will form part of the early sales of the new UK model. Finally, production tooling and larger volumes will follow later in the year with the need for a local toolmaker and moulding company being required to supply the necessary products and services – the Polymer Cluster will assist in setting this supply chain in place.