article by Vicki O'Brien in BC Business Magazine
Kempe grew up in a house of pain. His father lost a leg in the
1944 battle of Monte Cassino and suffered excruciating phantom
limb pain. Kempe wanted to help. "Whenever the pain came, my
father would predict rain. I realized that his scar had no
healthy skin covering, hence no protection from electromagnetic
The answer, he
decided, was to create a ‘second skin’ that would shield
sensitive tissue, calm damaged nerve ends and stimulate blood
engineering, Kempe began work on a prototype covering, which he
tested on his father. By 1978, he’d developed a thin fabric
cloth with interwoven metal fibres that significantly reduced
his father’s pain. Kempe named the product Farabloc.
Today, Farabloc is
produced at Kempe’s Coquitlam factory. Manufactured in many
shapes and sizes and sold across the globe, it has proven to
reduce phantom limb pain and delay the onset of muscle soreness
experienced by athletes. German researchers are currently
studying its effectiveness with painful fibromyalgia. Even
without hard evidence, hundreds of happy Farabloc customers
claim the product works on their pain.
When it comes to
killing pain, Kempe says it’s doesn’t hurt to give his product a
George Illot is going
camping this summer. That may not sound like much but when
you’ve spent 51 years in constant pain, unable to play outdoors
with your children, it’s a very big deal.
At age 15, Illot was
diagnosed with ankylosing spondilytis, arthritis of the spine,
which typically strikes men between 17 and 35. AS causes pain
and spinal stiffness and, in severe cases, the spine fuses in a
bent-forward position. At 39, Illot was so badly stooped that
he’d dropped 10 inches from his six-foot frame and underwent
For the last eight
years the 66-year-old retired MacMillan Bloedel lab manager
experienced severe nerve pain in his right leg and foot, making
sleep almost impossible. For Illot, medication was not an
option. He has long been concerned about addiction and almost
bled to death from an ulcer caused by anti-inflammatory
Five months ago, in
desperation, Illot’s wife sent for a Farabloc blanket, which she
folded in four and pinned around his waist. "I sat on my
favorite chair and stared at the clock, waiting for something to
happen," recalls Illot. "Within 30 minutes, my pain and tingling
had decreased by 50 per cent. After 15 minutes, it had gone
altogether. I was amazed."
Today Illot wears
one of Farabloc’s lower-back belts; he can even leave it off for
three hours and remain pain-free. "I wake up in the morning and
feel like jumping out of bed. I only wish I’d known about this
disables more people than cancer or heart disease. For many,
their best hope lies with multidisciplinary clinics, which offer
a variety of treatment options. However, in B.C., affordable
resources are few. While there are publicly funded,
hospital-based pain programs in Victoria, Vancouver and New
Westminster, there’s a year-long wait for an appointment at St.
Paul’s, B.C.’s premier pain centre. Today, the only way to
guarantee free first-class pain management is to be seriously
injured at work or in your car and meet strict compensation
standards set by the WCB, ICBC and private insurers. If they can
verify the pain to their satisfaction, they’ll cover the cost of
private programs aimed at returning you to work.
Vancouver Sun - September 27,
Amputees use it to
relieve phantom limb pain, equestrians use it on their horses
and now athletes and others seeking pain relief from
overexertion or accidents are flocking to a flexible metal fibre
fabric called Farabloc.
While no one can
pinpoint the exact mechanism of how it works, an award-winning
University of B.C. study published in the Clinical Journal of
Sports Medicine has shown that the invention of a Coquitlam man,
when worn during or after exercise, does in fact have a positive
It mediates the
body's cellular response so that inflammation and the resulting
pain is reduced in people who exercise vigorously.
In their study, UBC
sports medicine specialists Doug Clement and Jack Taunton (the
latter is now at the Sydney Olympics tending to Canadian
athletes) measured the effects on the blood chemistry of 20
non-athletic subjects who were asked to do enough resistance
exercise to induce muscle soreness and stiffness.
A control group wore
the Farabloc material -- a fabric made of woven stainless steel
and nylon thread -- around their thighs while a placebo group
wore an identical looking nylon-alone fabric.
Trial subjects were
asked to do 200 leg extensions each day for five days to induce
delayed onset muscle soreness in the thigh.
The five blood level
tests used to measure inflammation revealed that the Farabloc
material was effective at reducing cellular damage and swelling.
In control group
subjects, the study found that levels of the five different
biochemical markers of muscle injury -- creatine phosphokinase,
malondialdehyde, myoglobin, leukocytes and neutrophils -- were
all greatly reduced with the use of Farabloc. Control group
subjects also perceived less muscle pain and strength loss than
those who wore the placebo cloth wrapped around their thighs.
we're shocked by these totally bizarre results and the area
clearly needs a helluva lot more study. But clearly, electrical
currents have quite a lot to do with the functioning of the body
and electrical fields have an influence on cellular activity,"
Clement said in an interview.
"When one creates
damage to tissue, it's like creating a free radical storm and
one way to explain how Farabloc works is that it may act as an
antioxidant, reducing free radical damage," he added.
Just how an
externally applied fabric facilitates an anti-inflammatory
response is still a puzzle, but Clement said some researchers
who previously studied the fabric's effect believe it blocks
high frequency electromagnetic radiation from penetrating or
exciting cell membranes.
Farabloc was devised
by 50-year-old Coquitlam businessman Freider Kempe in 1978 to
relieve phantom limb pain. Growing up in Bavaria, Kempe watched
his father, a war amputee, suffer phantom limb pain, so he
invented a cloth shield made of nylon and fine metal fibres to
protect the nerve endings.
He named the product
after a 19th-century scientist, Michael Faraday, who discovered
Positive results of
the effects in reducing the pain in amputees were published
seven years ago in the Canadian Journal of Rehabilitation.
Farabloc Development Corporation, manufactures factory and
custom articles costing $70 to $450 that people can wear as
gloves, socks, pants, jackets and blankets.
co-authored paper on the efficacy of Farabloc won an award
earlier this year from the Canadian Academy of Sports Medicine,
said the results have some potentially exciting implications for
those recovering from muscle injuries stemming from sports
training or workplace injuries.
He didn't expect
these results but find them to be quite revolutionary for the
pain and injury world...the serum level results show clearly
that the Farabloc cloth wrap significantly reduced the level of
noxious substances in the blood that are associated with muscle
injuries and inflammation," he states.
Hill, a former U.S.
cycling Olympian (an alternate in 1984) who lives in Vancouver,
has been coaching elite Canadian cyclists for several years. She
said she and her husband, a running coach, use and recommend
various Farabloc articles.
It's great for
muscular injury and fatigue. I've got a fingerless glove, socks
and some custom- made pants which I use during or after
exercise. I can really feel the difference. The muscles relax
more quickly and it cuts my recovery time in half," she said.
The horse community
has known about Farabloc for a long time, especially when
warming the horses up, and you sure couldn't say it's only a
placebo effect because they've documented the [blood serum]
effect in horses too," Hill added.