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Scared of needles? MIT researchers invent a needleless injection device

Researchers claim their device is more accurate than needle injections. (Engadget.com)Researchers claim their device is more accurate than needle injections. (Engadget.com)If you've always had an inexplicable fear of needles and are dreading your next flu shot, the researchers at MIT have your back. Or arm, as the case may be.

Scientists are developing what's being hailed as a Star Trek-style, needleless device for delivering medication through the skin, reports The Daily Mail. And this high-tech product not only has the capacity to give varying doses at varying skin depths, thereby allowing doctors to deliver smaller or larger doses to both babies and adults, but its ability to be extremely precise would also eliminate painful instances of missed veins.

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Best of all, the new jet-powered prototype, that looks a bit like a hot glue gun, might also spell an end to child and adult fear of injections, surmises Anneline Webb, medical office assistant at The Children's Clinic in Calgary.

"I think it would be received greatly by our patients," she says. "I think the children would respond really well and even adults who are afraid of needles will not be afraid anymore."

Watch the below video explaining how MIT researchers developed the tool:

But is a fear of needles a real thing? Or is it something we assume most kids and some adults feel?

"Children have a fear of the unknown, so along comes a needle and they get pricked by it -- that instant pain will create a fear associated with needles forever," explains Webb.

Researchers at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf in Germany would probably agree.

Their recent study, which was reported by MSNBC.com, says that the suggestion of pain during an injection can actually cause it to be more painful. For instance, a doctor warning the patient, "this might hurt" could actually cause it to hurt. For that reason, they suggest not looking at needles when receiving a flu shot to cut down on pain.

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And kids aren't the only ones who fear the dreaded needle.

If you were to Google "fear of needles" you would discover an entire virtual world dedicated to the very real fear of injections and needles. One such site, the Needle Phobia Information Site, even goes so far as to categorize the different phobias associated with the subject:

"Belonephobia: fear of needles; Aichmophobia: fear of pointed objects; Algophobia: fear of pain; Trypanophobia: fear of injections"

The new jet-powered system could also spell an end to the notion that injections must be given through the arm, reports Mashable.

"MIT researchers have experimented with using the device to deliver drugs through the eye or ear, and are working on a version that can inject powdered drugs as if they were liquid drugs — something that could be useful in places where proper refrigeration of liquid drugs is impractical."

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