WO2010145715A1 - Device for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body - Google Patents

Device for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2010145715A1
WO2010145715A1 PCT/EP2009/057690 EP2009057690W WO2010145715A1 WO 2010145715 A1 WO2010145715 A1 WO 2010145715A1 EP 2009057690 W EP2009057690 W EP 2009057690W WO 2010145715 A1 WO2010145715 A1 WO 2010145715A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
treated
area
characterized
device according
tissues
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/EP2009/057690
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Catherine Yvonne GITTO née COTTAVOZ
Original Assignee
Gitto Nee Cottavoz Catherine Yvonne
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Application filed by Gitto Nee Cottavoz Catherine Yvonne filed Critical Gitto Nee Cottavoz Catherine Yvonne
Priority to PCT/EP2009/057690 priority Critical patent/WO2010145715A1/en
Publication of WO2010145715A1 publication Critical patent/WO2010145715A1/en

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Classifications

    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61HPHYSICAL THERAPY APPARATUS, e.g. DEVICES FOR LOCATING OR STIMULATING REFLEX POINTS IN THE BODY; ARTIFICIAL RESPIRATION; MASSAGE; BATHING DEVICES FOR SPECIAL THERAPEUTIC OR HYGIENIC PURPOSES OR SPECIFIC PARTS OF THE BODY
    • A61H7/00Devices for suction-kneading massage; Devices for massaging the skin by rubbing or brushing not otherwise provided for
    • A61H7/007Kneading
    • A61H7/008Suction kneading
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61HPHYSICAL THERAPY APPARATUS, e.g. DEVICES FOR LOCATING OR STIMULATING REFLEX POINTS IN THE BODY; ARTIFICIAL RESPIRATION; MASSAGE; BATHING DEVICES FOR SPECIAL THERAPEUTIC OR HYGIENIC PURPOSES OR SPECIFIC PARTS OF THE BODY
    • A61H15/00Massage by means of rollers, balls, e.g. inflatable, chains, or roller chains
    • A61H15/0078Massage by means of rollers, balls, e.g. inflatable, chains, or roller chains power-driven
    • A61H15/0085Massage by means of rollers, balls, e.g. inflatable, chains, or roller chains power-driven hand-held
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61HPHYSICAL THERAPY APPARATUS, e.g. DEVICES FOR LOCATING OR STIMULATING REFLEX POINTS IN THE BODY; ARTIFICIAL RESPIRATION; MASSAGE; BATHING DEVICES FOR SPECIAL THERAPEUTIC OR HYGIENIC PURPOSES OR SPECIFIC PARTS OF THE BODY
    • A61H15/00Massage by means of rollers, balls, e.g. inflatable, chains, or roller chains
    • A61H2015/0007Massage by means of rollers, balls, e.g. inflatable, chains, or roller chains with balls or rollers rotating about their own axis
    • A61H2015/0014Massage by means of rollers, balls, e.g. inflatable, chains, or roller chains with balls or rollers rotating about their own axis cylinder-like, i.e. rollers
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61HPHYSICAL THERAPY APPARATUS, e.g. DEVICES FOR LOCATING OR STIMULATING REFLEX POINTS IN THE BODY; ARTIFICIAL RESPIRATION; MASSAGE; BATHING DEVICES FOR SPECIAL THERAPEUTIC OR HYGIENIC PURPOSES OR SPECIFIC PARTS OF THE BODY
    • A61H2201/00Characteristics of apparatus not provided for in the preceding codes
    • A61H2201/10Characteristics of apparatus not provided for in the preceding codes with further special therapeutic means, e.g. electrotherapy, magneto therapy or radiation therapy, chromo therapy, infra-red or ultraviolet therapy
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A61MEDICAL OR VETERINARY SCIENCE; HYGIENE
    • A61HPHYSICAL THERAPY APPARATUS, e.g. DEVICES FOR LOCATING OR STIMULATING REFLEX POINTS IN THE BODY; ARTIFICIAL RESPIRATION; MASSAGE; BATHING DEVICES FOR SPECIAL THERAPEUTIC OR HYGIENIC PURPOSES OR SPECIFIC PARTS OF THE BODY
    • A61H2201/00Characteristics of apparatus not provided for in the preceding codes
    • A61H2201/10Characteristics of apparatus not provided for in the preceding codes with further special therapeutic means, e.g. electrotherapy, magneto therapy or radiation therapy, chromo therapy, infra-red or ultraviolet therapy
    • A61H2201/105Characteristics of apparatus not provided for in the preceding codes with further special therapeutic means, e.g. electrotherapy, magneto therapy or radiation therapy, chromo therapy, infra-red or ultraviolet therapy with means for delivering media, e.g. drugs or cosmetics

Abstract

A device ( 1 ) for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body, which comprises a handpiece (2) associated with a respective control and management unit. The handpiece (2) comprises at least one motorized roller (3), which is adapted to rest on the skin area (4) to be treated, at least one internal duct (5) that leads to a bidirectional pump (6) for the delivery of a forced stream of air onto the area (4) to be treated, at least one generator of electromagnetic waves (8) that has at least one respective emitter (9) that faces and is proximate to the area (4) to be treated, and at least one dispenser (10) of specific substances (11) that is substantially aligned with the area (4) to be treated.

Description

DEVICE FOR AESTHETIC, COSMETIC AND THERAPEUTIC TREATMENTS OF THE HUMAN AND ANIMAL BODY Technical Field

The present invention relates to a device for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body. Background Art

The aesthetic appearance of human skin is often tied to the characteristics of the deeper layers constituted by the dermis and hypodermis. The most superficial layer of the skin, the horny layer, is a veritable wall, an obstacle to the passage of substances through it: in practice, submitting the deep layers of the skin to any type of treatment is complex and involved, since the barrier constituted by the horny layer prevents the passage of the suitable substances.

Likewise, certain therapeutic treatments or treatments aimed at reducing articular, osteoarticular and/or muscle inflammations require treatments with specific substances: delivery toward the affected part is not simple in this case also, and often it is not possible to make the intended substances pass beyond the outer layer of the skin without resorting to injections and the like. Both in the case of cosmetic and aesthetic treatments and in the case of therapeutic treatments, one therefore resorts to injections by means of which the specific substance is introduced beyond the barrier constituted by the horny layer of the skin (the outermost one).

Merely by way of example, reference is made to mesotherapy, injections of fillers (substances that are injected into the skin in order to correct blemishes of the face, and in particular to slow the signs of aging, eliminating wrinkles and creases of the skin, and to correct the volumes of the face and in particular increase the volume of the cheekbones, chin and lips), injections of hyaluronic acid and the like. As an alternative, with particular reference to aesthetic treatments, it is possible to resort to chemical peeling treatments, which however, by causing an abrasion of the horny layer, can be unpleasant or in extreme cases even painful.

Resort to a technology based on submitting the skin to trains of electromagnetic waves, in order to provide preferential passage paths for the substances that one intends to convey toward the innermost layers, is recent: this treatment is normally known as transdermal delivery or electroporation. Transdermal delivery acts on the skin, causing a transient increase in tissue permeability. In dermatology it is therefore currently possible to deliver through the epidermis substances that have a different molecular weight and to pass through the dermal-epidermal barrier. The principle on which this technique is based is an emission of modulated low-intensity electromagnetic waves. The system makes the epidermis permeable by means of the association of an electric wave and an ionization chamber, which allows the substances used in the form of active ingredients, mixed beforehand in a specific gel, to be "charged" electrically and therefore be ready for ion transport.

The particularity of this technique allows to perform local therapies with small quantities of active ingredient, obtaining however high concentrations of the active ingredient in the target organ.

All these treatments suffer the severe drawback of being substantially passive: both invasive traditional therapies (mesotherapy, injections and the like) and transdermal delivery are performed on motionless tissues. In the first case, in order to avoid excessive pain to the patient, massage is not performed at the end of the treatment (optionally it might be performed beforehand, for preparatory purposes); in the second case, it would be possible to perform the massage both before and after the treatment.

However, in practice it is not possible to treat tissues that are undergoing a dynamic stress of the mechanical type, a condition which is instead ideal for the best absorption of the substances and their rapid introduction into circulation.

Disclosure of the Invention

The aim of the present invention is to solve the above-mentioned drawbacks, by providing a device for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body that is suitable for the transdermal delivery of specific substances during the execution of a mechanical massage of the part to be treated.

Within this aim, an object of the invention is to provide a device for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body that is suitable for the execution also of a pneumatic massage.

Another object of the invention is to provide a device for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body with working surfaces that have specific dimensions for each area to be treated.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a device for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body that has low costs and is relatively simple to provide and safe in application.

This aim and these and other objects, which will become better apparent hereinafter, are achieved by a device for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body, of the type that comprises a handpiece associated with a respective control and management unit, characterized in that said handpiece comprises at least one motorized roller, which is suitable for resting on the skin area to be treated, at least one internal duct that leads to a bidirectional pump for the delivery of a forced stream of air onto the area to be treated, at least one generator of electromagnetic waves that has at least one respective emitter that faces and is proximate to the area to be treated, and at least one dispenser of specific substances that is substantially aligned with the area to be treated.

Brief description of the drawings Further characteristics and advantages of the invention will become better apparent from the following detailed description of a preferred but not exclusive embodiment of the device for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body according to the invention, illustrated by way of non-limiting example in the accompanying drawings, wherein the Sole Figure is a schematic view of a device for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body according to the invention. Ways of carrying out the Invention

With reference to the figure, the reference numeral 1 generally designates a device for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body.

The device 1 comprises a handpiece 2, which is associated with a respective control and management unit (not shown in the accompanying figure): in general, the control and management unit is connected to a power supply network (which is generally electric) and comprises suitable processing units and memory components so as to set the type of treatment that is suitable as a function of a plurality of parameters that can be entered by the operator or detected directly by means of suitable sensors that are present on the handpiece 2. The handpiece 2 comprises at least one motorized roller 3, which is adapted to rest on the skin area 4 to be treated.

According to an embodiment referred to the general diagram shown in the accompanying figure, a duct 5, which is internal to the handpiece 2, leads to a bidirectional pump 6 for the delivery of a forced stream of air onto the area 4 to be treated: the duct 5 is connected to the pump 6 by means of a specific tube 7 (generally of the flexible type). The flexible tube 7 can be comprised within a multipurpose cable, which will accommodate, in addition to the tube 7, also any electrical conductors needed for the power supply and control of all the components that are present inside the handpiece 2. The possibility is not excluded to use a multifunction cable that is provided with a series of tubes 7 that lead to various ducts 5 that open below the handpiece 2 toward the area 4 to be treated, in order to submit different portions of the same area 4 to suction and/or dispensing of air with different intensity, in order to subject the skin to a very intense mechanical action.

The device 1 according to the invention further comprises at least one electromagnetic wave generator 8, which has at least one respective emitter 9 that faces and is proximate to the area 4 to be treated and at least one dispenser 10 of specific substances 11 that is substantially aligned with the area 4 to be treated.

The substances 11 can be of various kinds; for example, the substances 11 can be constituted by (or can comprise) cellular water (a substance constituted mainly by water with the same characteristics as the water contained within the cells and tissues of the human and/or animal body).

The dispenser 10 is connected to a channel 12 that leads to at least one containment tank 13 for the specific substance 1 1 : it is obvious that a plurality of channels 12, leading to respective dispensers 10 distributed along the lower surface of the handpiece 2, can branch out from a same tank 13 (the possibility is not excluded, and is indeed an application of assured interest, to make the channels 12 lead to dispensers 10 arranged along the surface of the rollers 3, which in this case have, along their cylindrical lateral surface, openings that indeed will constitute the dispensers 10); in this manner it is possible to spray the medicinal substance 11 onto a plurality of points of the area 4 to be treated, facilitating a very uniform distribution thereof.

The emitter 9 of the electromagnetic wave generator 8 preferably generates an electrical field on the area 4 in front of it whose frequency, waveform and intensity are adjustable in order to ionize the tissues of the skin area 4 to be treated, consequently forming aqueous channels at the cellular fatty layers, channels known as electropores.

The characteristics of the various waveforms needed to form the electropores (a phenomenon known as "electroporation") are various: the parameters of each train of waves (intensity, duration, frequency, harmonic content, etcetera) are predefined in the literature as a function of the depth of the treatment that one wishes to perform; very deep electroporation forms channels that reach the innermost layers of the dermis or pass through it until they lead directly onto muscle, articular, nerve, bone, cartilage tissues and/or organs and blood vessels. The electromagnetic wave generator 8 can also be adapted to ionize the specific substance 1 1 that reaches the dispenser 10: in general, the ionization of the substance 1 1 can be caused by the same generator 8 or by an additional generator installed specifically in the handpiece 2. The ionization of the substance 11 allows it to be conveyed (delivered) easily, by means of an electrical field of suitable direction and intensity, within the aqueous channels (electropores) of the area 4 to be treated until the optimum depth for the type of treatment being performed is reached.

In this case, the charge assigned by the electrical field generated by the generator 8 (or by a specific generator) to the tissues of the area 4 to be treated and the ionization charge of the substance 1 1 are such as to facilitate the diffusion of the ionized substance 1 1 within such tissues, even in depth, through the aqueous channels known as electropores.

According to an embodiment of particular interest in practice and in application, the emitters 9 are a plurality and the dispensers 10 are a plurality, both distributed along the surface of the handpiece 2 that faces the area 4 to be treated.

From the point of view of application, it should be noted that the emitters 9 might also be arranged directly on the rollers 3 (along the cylindrical lateral surface) and the dispensers 10 might also be arranged thereat. In this manner, in addition to ensuring optimum distribution of the substance 1 1 on the area 4, the phenomenon of electroporation is facilitated on all of the area 4, enhancing the absorption of the substance 1 1 by tissues.

The rollers 3, according to an embodiment of unquestionable interest in application, are two, motorized by at least one driving element (not shown in the figure and potentially constituted by respective motor- gearmotor assembly), for their movement of a synchronous, asynchronous and independent type. The fact that the rollers 3 can move simultaneously at the same speed, at different speeds, in opposite directions, that only one is motorized while the other one is driven, constitutes a set of operating combinations that are designed to produce a mechanical massage that is suitably energetic and in-depth. Depending on the substance 11 delivered through the device 1 onto the area 4, it is convenient to perform a particular mechanical massage in order to determine the best possible effect from an aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic standpoint (as a function of the substance 1 1 dispensed or of the various substances 1 1 dispensed). The effect of the mechanical massage, caused by the overlap of the action of the rollers 3 and of the air stream generated by the pump 6, thus helps to move the tissues, so that the substance 11 delivered through the electropores created by the emitter 9 is distributed in the best possible way and uniformly, ensuring uniform and optimum treatment. The mechanical stresses of the tissues further activate their local blood and lymphatic circulation, with a consequent aptitude to optimum absorption of the active ingredient of the substance 1 1 : the effects of the substance 1 1 are therefore augmented substantially by the mechanical massage, and this will be clearly detectable both in aesthetic treatments and cosmetic treatments and in therapeutic ones.

For example, the conveyance of hyaluronic acid through the skin in order to improve its appearance and mitigate the signs of aging (such as wrinkles) is certainly enhanced by a mechanical massage of the area 4, since the increase in blood and lymphatic circulation determines a higher concentration of elastin in the tissues, which gives the skin a better appearance.

In the physiotherapy field, if it is necessary to deliver anti- inflammatory or analgesic substances into a muscle it is unquestionable that. the action of mechanical massage, by producing a warming of the muscle fibers and a relaxation thereof, predisposes to optimum absorption of these substances.

As already mentioned earlier, in order to extend the potentialities of operation of the device 1 according to the invention, the bidirectional pump

6 is controlled by the control and management unit in order to determine the intensity, duration, orientation, behavior and periodicity of the flow of air in the internal duct 5.

Again for the same purpose of optimization of the functionalities of the device 1, it must be noted that the containment tanks 13 of a specific substance 1 1 are at least two, which lead to respective dispensers 10 by means of a respective channel 12; the dispensing of different substances 1 1 and the subsequent delivery into the tissues through the aqueous channels known as electropores will produce a high concentration of the substances 1 1 in the tissues to be treated, which are simultaneously stressed mechanically by the rollers 3 and by the air stream generated by the bidirectional pump 6.

Purely by way of example, the substances 1 1 suitable to be delivered into tissues by means of the device 1 according to the invention are comprised preferably among caffeine, analgesics, anti-inflammatory products, hyaluronic acid, generic substances for aesthetic treatments, medicinal drugs (of the traditional type, of the homeopathic type and/or so- called "alternative medicines"), natural extracts, excipients, cellular water and active ingredients. All these substances can be in the pure state or mixed with others, and the creation of suitable mixtures constituted by the combination of two or more different substances 11 is not excluded.

The invention thus conceived is susceptible of numerous modifications and variations, all of which are within the scope of the appended claims; all the details may further be replaced with other technically equivalent elements.

For example, the tank 13 might be adapted to accommodate closed capsules that contain a specific substance 11 of interest: by inserting the capsule in the tank 13, the capsule would open and the substance 11 would escape. In this manner, the substance 11 could not be contaminated in any way by the outside environment and the treatment to which the patient is subjected would be particularly safe.

In the exemplary embodiments shown, individual characteristics, given in relation to specific examples, may actually be interchanged with other different characteristics that exist in other exemplary embodiments.

Moreover, it is noted that anything found to be already known during the patenting process is understood not to be claimed and to be the subject of a disclaimer.

In practice, the materials used, as well as the dimensions, may be any according to requirements and to the state of the art.

Where technical features mentioned in any claim are followed by reference signs, those reference signs have been included for the sole purpose of increasing the intelligibility of the claims and accordingly, such reference signs do not have any limiting effect on the interpretation of each element identified by way of example by such reference signs.

Claims

1. A device for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body, of the type that comprises a handpiece (2) associated with a respective control and management unit, characterized in that said handpiece (2) comprises at least one motorized roller (3), which is suitable for resting on the skin area (4) to be treated, at least one internal duct (5) that leads to a bidirectional pump (6) for the delivery of a forced stream of air onto the area (4) to be treated, at least one generator of electromagnetic waves (8) that has at least one respective emitter (9) that faces and is proximate to the area (4) to be treated, and at least one dispenser (10) of specific substances (1 1) that is substantially aligned with the area (4) to be treated.
2. The device according to claim 1, characterized in that said dispenser (10) is connected to a channel (12) that leads to at least one containment tank (13) for the specific substance (1 1).
3. The device according to claim 1 , characterized in that the emitter
(10) of said generator of electromagnetic waves (8) generates an electrical field whose frequency, waveform and intensity are adjustable for the ionization of the tissues of the skin area (4) to be treated, with consequent formation of aqueous channels at the cellular fatty layers, said channels being known as electropores.
4. The device according to claim 1 , characterized in that said electromagnetic wave generator (8) is adapted to ionize the specific substance (1 1) that reaches said dispenser (10).
5. The device according to claims 3 and 4, characterized in that the charge given by the electrical field generated by said generator (8) to the tissues of the area (4) to be treated and the ionization charge of the substance (1 1) are such as to facilitate the diffusion of the ionized substance
(1 1) in said tissues, even in depth, through the aqueous channels known as electropores.
6. The device according to claim 1, characterized in that said emitters (9) are a plurality and said dispensers (10) are a plurality, both being distributed along the surface of the handpiece (2) that faces the area (4) to be treated.
7. The device according to one or more of the preceding claims, characterized in that said rollers (3) are two and are motorized by at least one driving element, for their movement of the synchronous type, of the asynchronous type and of the independent type.
8. The device according to one or more of the preceding claims, characterized in that, said bidirectional pump (6) is controlled by said control and management unit in order to determine the intensity, duration, orientation, behavior and periodicity of the flow of air in the internal duct (5).
9. The device according to one or more of the preceding claims, characterized in that said containment tanks (13) of a respective substance
(1 1) are at least two, which lead to respective dispensers (10) by means of a respective channel (12), the dispensing of different substances (1 1) and the subsequent delivery into the tissues through the aqueous channels known as electropores causing a high concentration of said substances (11) in the tissues to be treated, which are simultaneously stressed mechanically by the rollers (3) and by the stream of air generated by the bidirectional pump (6).
10. The device according to one or more of the preceding claims, characterized in that said substances (1 1 ) are comprised among caffeine, analgesics, anti-inflammatory products, hyaluronic acid, medicinal drugs, including homeopathic drugs, natural extracts, excipients, cellular water and active ingredients, even in a non-pure state and even in combination.
PCT/EP2009/057690 2009-06-19 2009-06-19 Device for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body WO2010145715A1 (en)

Priority Applications (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
PCT/EP2009/057690 WO2010145715A1 (en) 2009-06-19 2009-06-19 Device for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
PCT/EP2009/057690 WO2010145715A1 (en) 2009-06-19 2009-06-19 Device for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body

Publications (1)

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PCT/EP2009/057690 WO2010145715A1 (en) 2009-06-19 2009-06-19 Device for aesthetic, cosmetic and therapeutic treatments of the human and animal body

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Citations (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
FR1225094A (en) * 1959-02-14 1960-06-29 Improvements to massage balls, including endistributeurs to constitute at least one treatment product
WO1998031321A1 (en) * 1997-01-16 1998-07-23 Jones Rick E Combined massage, acupressure and biomagnetic therapy apparatus
US20050015030A1 (en) * 2003-01-14 2005-01-20 Patrick Bousfield Apparatus for combined application of massage, accupressure and biomagnetic therapy with improved steel ball supports
US20070173749A1 (en) * 2006-01-20 2007-07-26 Biocellulase, Inc. Mechanical massage device
EP1905409A1 (en) * 2006-09-26 2008-04-02 Adriatica Tecnologie S.r.l. Apparatus for reactivating microcirculation of the blood
WO2008129587A1 (en) * 2007-04-23 2008-10-30 Francesco Pugliese Medical apparatus with magnetotherapy function in combination with massaging and/or vibrating function

Patent Citations (6)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
FR1225094A (en) * 1959-02-14 1960-06-29 Improvements to massage balls, including endistributeurs to constitute at least one treatment product
WO1998031321A1 (en) * 1997-01-16 1998-07-23 Jones Rick E Combined massage, acupressure and biomagnetic therapy apparatus
US20050015030A1 (en) * 2003-01-14 2005-01-20 Patrick Bousfield Apparatus for combined application of massage, accupressure and biomagnetic therapy with improved steel ball supports
US20070173749A1 (en) * 2006-01-20 2007-07-26 Biocellulase, Inc. Mechanical massage device
EP1905409A1 (en) * 2006-09-26 2008-04-02 Adriatica Tecnologie S.r.l. Apparatus for reactivating microcirculation of the blood
WO2008129587A1 (en) * 2007-04-23 2008-10-30 Francesco Pugliese Medical apparatus with magnetotherapy function in combination with massaging and/or vibrating function

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