Neuromodulation works by actively stimulating nerves to produce a natural biological response. It is the alteration—or modulation—of nerve activity by delivering electrical stimulation directly to a targeted area of the central nervous system.1
Neuromodulation devices may be invasive or noninvasive. Noninvasive techniques deliver magnetic or electrical currents through contacts that reside on the outside of the head. Invasive neuromodulation therapies include deep brain stimulation, cortical stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, spinal cord stimulation, and peripheral nerve stimulation. All invasive treatments require surgical intervention for implantation of the electrodes and pulse generators.2
Neuromodulation devices have a long history of success. Dr. Norman Shealy, a neurosurgeon, implanted the first device for the relief of chronic pain in 1967.3 Since then, the technology has evolved and emerged to treat numerous conditions. Due to the limitations of pharmaceuticals to treat chronic disorders, providers have utilized neuromodulation treatment options for:
- Chronic pain
- Movement disorders
- Psychiatric disorders (including opioid use disorder)
- Functional restoration
- Cardiovascular disorders
- Gastrointestinal disorders
Providers have increasingly turned their focus to neuromodulation devices as a growing trend in treatment. The global neuromodulation devices market size stood at $4.51 billion USD in 2018 and is projected to reach $9.34 billion USD by 2026.4 Wider acceptance will spur even more advanced solutions for new indications.
Managing opioid withdrawal with neuromodulation
Speranza Therapeutics S.T. Genesis is an FDA-cleared neuromodulation device that supports the reduction of opioid withdrawal symptoms. The drug-free, noninvasive device is placed behind the ear. Small electrodes are placed around the outer ear to access branches of cranial nerves V, VII, IX, and X and the occipital nerves. Within 60 minutes, S.T. Genesis reduces the physical and emotional strain of withdrawal experienced by those suffering from opioid use disorder. The treatment is an innovative and revolutionary solution for Addiction Treatment and Pain Management providers to provide comfort to patients as they reduce or stop opioid use.
The future of neuromodulation
Current neuromodulation treatments have proven efficacy and health benefits for patients. Providers can look forward to a time of rapid development. Devices will become smaller, have a longer energy life, and deliver more targeted treatment. Many neuromodulation devices will have the ability to become a disease management platform. Patients and providers will have better visibility with device-provided data to personalize device programming and track clinical response. The data may be used to assess whether pharmacologic, surgical, or device-specific changes in therapy will be of benefit.5 Neuromodulation promises the opportunity for great advancements in patient care.
5. Neuromodulation in 2035. The Neurology Future Forecasting Series. Tim Denison, Martha J. Morrell. Neurology Jan 2022, 98 (2) 65-72; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000013061