Atlanta doctor turned inventor takes the sting out of shots

11:19 AM, Oct 31, 2013   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Since children receive, on average, more than two dozen shots by the age of six, it's understandable that some would develop a fear of needles. With that phobia in mind, an Atlanta mom and emergency medicine specialist tried to find a way to minimize the pain at the pediatrician.  

In the basement of her Intown Atlanta home, Dr. Amy Baxter created Buzzy.

"When I started this I didn't intend for this to be my life," Dr. Baxter said.

But the burgeoning business in the basement, or the "hive" of her home, took over the life and career of this Atlanta doctor and mother-of-three.

The inspiration dates back to 2001 when she took her son, then four, to the pediatrician for routine shots.

Despite all of her planning with numbing cream and toys for distraction, Max became terrified.

"If I was so dis-empowered that I couldn't even intervene and say hold on a second, or wait or this is how we're going to do this, what can any parent do," she said.

With future immunizations in mind, she started brainstorming solutions and the, one night when driving home from an emergency shift, she figured it out.

"My hands were vibrating because the steering wheel was unbalanced because the tires were unbalanced," she explained. "And my hands got numb. And I was like, I don't need water, or motion, I just need a vibrator!"

After disassembling personal massaging gadgets and vibrating cell phones, she realized she needed something else that vibrated.

"I went to a sex shop and got everything they had that was on sale," the mother-of-three explained with a gigantic smile.

Dr. Baxter finally found the cylindrical motor she needed to create the physiologic pain blocker that uses high-frequency vibration and a cold pack. The sensation of the frozen pack attached to Buzzy and the vibration from the plastic device itself helps to desensitize the nerves and thus the pain of a shot is dulled.

Initially made in China, now Buzzy has two versions manufactured in Alpharetta and Suwanee. The reusable device isn't proving to just empower parents with their children but it's also empowering adults with their own medical needs.

"We get letters every week from parents whose kids lives have changed, from moms who were going to quit breastfeeding, from moms who are pregnant now and were going to give up on IVF," she said.

Thirty-thousand units at $39.94 have sold since Dr. Baxter launched Buzzy in 2009.  This year, they're on target for one million in sales.

With all of the success, comes the sacrifice.

"I would work at Buzzy from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. and go to the hospital from 4p.m. until 1 a.m. And I would do that three times a week," she said about the hectic schedule. Now on sabbatical from her medical practice to focus on Buzzy full-time, she says it's still challenging, even with the team of five other moms, known as the Buzzy Babes. 

Still, reflecting the success of the device and how much it's helping others, it's all worth it. 

"Has it been fun? In retrospect? It's like labor, you forget the pain.

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