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NEUROMODULATION

DEVELOPMENT OF NEUROMODULATION

Physicians, for generations, have been intrigued by the possibility of harvesting the power of electrical impulses in the human body for therapeutic benefit. The modern era of began in the early 1960s with the use of deep brain stimulation (DBS) to resolve chronic and intractable pain, and gradually evolved to a variety of other areas of the brain and spinal cord.

The first implantable neuromodulatory device for the relief of intractable pain in 1967 was accredited to the Neurosurgeon C. Norman Shealy. His spinal cord stimulators, which he called “dorsal column stimulators,” were intended exclusively for pain relief. By 1974, a group of physicians developed a less-invasive stimulating electrode. By implanting electrodes outside the subarachnoid space also enabled stimulation to occur without any major side effects, like spinal cord compression and leakage of cerebro-spinal fluid.This enhanced patient satisfaction and increased interest to this field.

WHAT IS NEUROMODULATION?

Neuromodulation is technology that acts directly upon nerves or the brain. It consists of an alteration—or modulation—of nerve activity by the process of delivering electrical or pharmaceutical agents directly to a target area.

Neuromodulation devices and treatments are truly life enhancing. They affect nearly every area of the body and can treat nearly every disease or symptoms. For example, headaches to tremors, to spinal cord damage to urinary incontinence. With such a broad therapeutic scope, and significant ongoing improvements in biotechnology in the world, it is not surprising that neuromodulation is poised to achieve a major share in the health industry in the next decade.

Neuromodulation initially was a treatment of choice for intractable Chronic pain. However, there are currently a plethora of neuromodulation applications available for use, such as deep brain stimulation (DBS) treatment for Parkinson disease, sacral nerve stimulation for pelvic disorders and incontinence, and spinal cord stimulation for ischemic disorders (angina, peripheral vascular disease) and Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation for Major Depression. This is a major area of interest in Psychiatry, though the intervention is not invasive like some of the other treatments.

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