What is Neuromodulation and Why is it Important?

Neurological disorders such as cerebrovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson's disease can be treated with the help of neuromodulation that is performed by using various devices or infusing drugs. Devices used in neuromodulation involve the application of electrodes to the spinal cord, brain, or peripheral nerves.

In Switzerland, around one in five adults suffers from chronic pain. Chronic pain cannot be seen by looking at the person affected. Quality of life and social relationships are considerably limited.

Today there are already many multimodal pain therapy models that consist of medicinal, physical and psychosocial components and are effective in many cases. Despite these multimodal treatments, there are very many patients whose pain cannot be sufficiently alleviated by conservative multimodal concepts.

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Devices which distribute pharmaceutical agent work by surgically implanting a device and then programming a delivery of pain medicine directly into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. This is professionally programmed by the surgeon to accurately deliver the correct dose at the correct intervals as dictated by the patient’s physician. Once the device is successfully implanted the patient will not have to worry about remembering to take any medication for their pain and be safe in the knowledge that everything is automatically working from that moment onward.

Neurofeedback is another approach. Using EEG (electroencephalogram- an imaging tool that shows the electrical activity in the brain) to provide a real-time look into what’s happening in the brain, this tool allows patients to learn how to modify brain activity. It’s usually done through some sort of game that is connected to the patient’s EEG, rewarding them for changing certain brainwaves in the desired direction. Seeing which techniques work and which do not allows them to implement those techniques in their daily life to cope with symptoms.

Why is neuromodulation important?

This specific approach to treatment is crucial to the new understanding of mental illness as a brain disease, as opposed to a behavioral disorder or just a problem with how someone thinks. Because these illnesses physically present in the structure and function of the human brain, they can be treated by coaxing the damaged brain to act in a more normal fashion. Whether through training the patient to change their brain waves on their own, or targeting the problem with stimulation, or any of the countless other ways to change the way the human brain functions, it is clear that these emerging techniques are capable not only of treating patients in a more effective way, but also of changing the entire stigma that surrounds mental illness.

When the general population becomes aware that illnesses such as depression are real, physical problems with the structure or function of the brain, struggling patients will no longer be told to “suck it up” and “just stop being sad”. Mental illness is hard enough without loved ones insisting that it isn’t a genuine issue. Healing techniques that work through changing the malfunctioning part of the brain prove that these illnesses are real problems and should be treated as such, by doctors, patients, and loved ones.

Abbott; Boston Scientific Corporation; Medtronic; NeuroPace, Inc.; NeuroSigma, Inc.; NEVRO CORP; Synapse Biomedical Inc.; Soterix Medical Inc; Integer Holdings Corporation; and Magstim are among the key players operating in the neuromodulation.

According to a study ‘Incidence and Prevalence of Major Neurologic Disorders,’ published in January 2018, ~36% of elderly have moderate or severe memory impairment in the US. Each year nearly 1.2 million adults are diagnosed with brain disorders, of which 51.3% is due to stroke and 21% due to Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, nearly 135 million people are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, and epilepsy each year.






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