Interlochen business owner sees a growing need for her electrotherapy company

INTERLOCHEN – Tears come to Cindy Kasper's eyes when she thinks of all the people that suffer from years of chronic or acute pain. But her sorrow transforms into hope, knowing that they don't have to suffer; that they can get their lives back.

Kasper is the owner of Alivio Corp., a manufacturer and distributor of electronic pain-relieving devices. Serving as a distributor for the devices since 1995, Kasper took over complete ownership in 2001 making Alivio "100 percent Michigan," with a manufacturing plant in Grand Rapids and distribution offices in Interlochen.

Alivio offers two pain-relieving products: the Alivio IF4, an interferential stimulator, and the Alivio STX, a neuromuscular stimulator, which are prescribed to relieve acute and chronic pain and enhance healing. Each device uses electric currents to stimulate nerve and muscle fibers.

As a breast cancer survivor, Kasper feels strongly about being a proactive patient. She says it is everyone's right to take control of their health, body, and life.

Therefore, the main goal for her business is to educate the public about their options when dealing with chronic and acute pain.

"Painkilling narcotics can destroy your quality of life," explains Kasper. "Their adverse affects get in the way of daily life. And many times these drugs can lead to addiction and death by overdose or suicide. Our electrotherapy devices offer an alternative that heals while raising your quality of life."

Sessions are determined by a doctor, but generally a patient will use the device three to four times for up to 30 minutes a day. Kasper has used the Alivio IF4 before for back pain. She says it feels like a pulsating sensation and a bit tingly. Patients are in control of the intensity and strength.

Throughout a patient's trial with Alivio devices, Kasper and her team stay in constant contact. Kasper speaks of her greatest reward when patients call thanking her.

"I get calls from patients telling me, 'I've suffered for so long.' They had no idea this alternative pain reliever existed and they wish they knew about it sooner."

Visibility and availability of Alivio products have been a struggle for Kasper. Although many insurance providers cover a portion of the devices, they are still considered "experimental."

"We constantly hear from the insurance providers, 'Sorry, you're not in our network.' It is very frustrating." According to Kasper, insurance providers will sometimes look to similar products that have been developed and manufactured overseas, because they are cheaper, but the quality of the device is not there.

To help with the lack of insurance coverage, Alivio offers free trial periods, device rental and a payment plan. To elevate product visibility and offset the cynics, Kasper and her sales team have approached many doctors and asked them for three or four of their patients who are suffering the most and where nothing else has seemed to help them.

"Many times, in these cases, our pain-relieving device makes a dramatic difference," says Kasper. "Electrotherapy is not for everyone, but if you are suffering from pain daily, you need to know there are options and you need to tell your physician you want to try it."

Kasper says it's tough being a business owner in today's economy.

"It's a constant struggle," she says. "It's been 13 years and we are still trying to build our brand, get Alivio out there and educate the public and health professionals." However, with a strong sales team and commitment to her products, Kasper sees a glimmer of hope.

As for being a woman-owned business, Kasper doesn't think much about gender. "I'm just a woman that owns a business that I care deeply about."

Alivio Corporation is located at 20429 Honor Hwy., Interlochen. For more information, visit www.fightpainnow.com or call 231-275-1346. BN

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