Pain Checker products include gloves, socks and wrist bands. Material for the items is manufactured at Lincolntonâ€™s Warp Knit Mills.
Jenny Walling / Lincoln Times-News
It was 1996, and Arthur Goldberg had no idea what was about to hit him.
His company â€” the Crystal Textile Group based in Ft. Lee, N.J. â€” was working on manufacturing surgery drapes using a fabric containing special conductive fibers.
One Saturday morning, Goldberg was at home going over the costs of the project. He had a small piece of the soft fabric with him.
He reached over to turn on a light.
“As I went to turn the switch, I hit my funny bone on the metal pole,” Goldberg said. “I saw stars.”
Instinctively, he brought his hand up to his elbow. In his hand was the special fabric.
“I held my hand on it, and all the pain just stopped immediately,” Goldberg said. “I didnâ€™t know what was going on.”
When he took his hand away, the pain came back â€” and Pain Checker was born.
After years of trying to convince the Crystal Group that he wasnâ€™t crazy â€” “My own company didnâ€™t believe me,” Goldberg said â€” he convinced the company president to take a chance on the product.
That chance has led to a Lincolnton company reinventing itself and striving to succeed in a time when the future looks bleak for textiles.
Warp Knit Mills has begun manufacturing fabric for Pain Checker products. The dyeing and finishing will take place at Hickoryâ€™s Crystal Dyeing, and other operations will take place at additional plants.
Warp Knit will also be the distribution hub for the products.
Twenty-one Pain Checker products are currently available and range from headbands and wristbands to nightshirts and mattress covers. The company is also in the process of creating products for animals.
The product works like this, according to Bob Clewell, executive director of Pain Checker and vice-president of operations for Warp Knit:
Small, gray, conductive fibers run through the material and act like antennas, picking up electrical charges from the body and the atmosphere. The fabric acts as a battery emitting its own current. That current interferes with the pain signal coming from the body.
Complicated, yes, but officials say the outcome is simple â€” the pain goes away.
In fact, the companyâ€™s field study has reported about 90 percent of participants experienced at least “some” to “excellent” results.
Tests are currently being done at Duke University and N.C. State Universityâ€™s veterinary school.
Clewell has used the stretch knee band for almost two years for pain that used to keep him up at night.
“Since Iâ€™ve been wearing the knee pad I can at least sleep,” Clewell said.
The New York Jets have even become fans of Pain Checker products.
David Price, head trainer for the Jets, has been using Pain Checker as an adjunctive aid for his players since the 2002 season.
He said the shoulder wrap, leg/ankle wrap and elastic bandage have been especially successful when dealing with sports-related injuries.
Plans for Pain Checker products for animals and seat cushions for vehicles are also in the works.
As another plus to the project, Pain Checker products will be sold solely by independent distributors.
Goldberg and Clewell want to give people who may have lost their jobs due to outsourcing or the decline in the textile industry the chance to start up a successful business. Distributors can build their own business and get others involved selling the products in an unlimited area.
Distribution will eventually go worldwide, Goldberg said.
For now, theyâ€™re targeting Crystal Group employees and displaced textile workers.
“Weâ€™re hopeful that it will be something that will keep our company going and allow us to hire other people,” Clewell said.by Alice Smith