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CA inventor gets U.S. grant for massage device to help vets with PTSD

PTSD (US Army/Released)

For years, Cazadero construction worker and military veteran Joe Meisch has been donating his patented temple massager device to other vets suffering headaches and migraines caused by conditions such as PTSD.

Since 2006, he’s given veteran clinics and organizations about 3,500 of the devices, which sell for $66 apiece. But Meisch, an Army Reserve and National Guard veteran, could be on the verge of turning goodwill into substantial profit — and finally the breakthrough he’s worked thousands of hours to achieve.

Last year, he became a vendor for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and his sales jumped to about $48,000 — a leap from $2,800 in 2018 sales, he said. This year after a boost from a $50,000 federal Small Business Innovation Research grant, Meisch aims to land a sole source contract with the Air Force. That could increase his sales tenfold or more, he said.

“It could lead to thousands sold to the Air Force and other military branches,” he said recently, standing in the workshop of his Cazadero home where he assembles his massaging device.

Meisch, who jokingly calls his home the “Cazadero Neuroscience Institute,” has been plugging away at his invention for nearly two decades. During that time, he tried to get the device in the hands of as many military veterans as he can. He’s made connections with local clinics and organizations who treat veterans for migraines, stress, anxiety and other combat-related issues symptomatic of post-traumatic stress disorder.

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His device looks like a cross between a tuning fork and stethoscope. The two prongs on it have massage tips that are used to rub the temples, jawbone and sides of the skull and face.

A small turnbuckle at the base of the two prongs allows for adjustments on the pressure of the two massage tips. The massager also has a small round indentation at the base to accommodate small pads of essential oils for aroma therapy.

Meisch got the idea for his temple massager more than two decades ago when he used two earpieces on his sunglasses to rub his temples to fend off onset of a migraine. He said relaxing muscles can help relieve headaches, teeth grinding and jaw clenching.

The device design has undergone fine tuning over the years, using better materials and the inclusion of the turnbuckle for pressure variance. But it remains essentially the same, a manual massager that offers complementary alternative medicine and therapy.

“That’s what the military calls holistic therapy,” he said.

At a time when far too many Americans, including veterans, are turning to pharmaceutical painkillers such as opioids, Meisch said his device offers a healthier option. It puts people in control of their own health, he said.

Robert Morgan, 64, first tried the device after Meisch sent him one after the Cazadero inventor heard about Morgan’s ordeal during the 2017 wildfires. Morgan, a former resident of Journey’s End mobile home park, said the Tubbs fire left him with enduring stress and trauma.

That October night years ago, Morgan used a water hose to help firefighters battle a blaze that destroyed most of the Santa Rosa mobile home park. He left Sonoma County shortly after the 2018 Camp fire sent him into “panic mode,” and settled in Menomonie, Wisconsin, with the help of his ex-wife.

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© 2020 The Press Democrat