Neuromodulation is a treatment that directly impacts the nervous system. Neuromodulation devices stimulate nerves – with pharmaceutical agents, electrical stimulation, or other forms of energy – by modulating abnormal pathway behavior caused by the disease process.
The results of neuromodulation can be quite significant. They provide insight into areas such as pain relief or reduction, restoration of bowel and bladder control, Parkinson’s disease and other types of tremor control, just to name a few.
Neuromodulation therapies are typically reversible and deliver stimulation to targeted neural circuits in the brain, spine, or peripheral nerves.
Depending on the clinical indications for treatment, neuromodulation devices can be implanted or externally placed. This means that the therapy for externally placed may be minimally invasive or non-invasive.
Invasive neuromodulation techniques range from transcranial magnetic stimulation to implanted neuromodulation devices like spinal cord stimulation or a deep brain stimulation system.
Neuromodulation therapy is most commonly used to treat the following:
- Spinal cord stimulation for chronic nerve pain
- Deep brain stimulation for essential tremors, Parkinson’s disease, dystonia, epilepsy, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome
- Sacral nerve stimulation for pelvic conditions – such as a weak pelvic floor resulting in incontinence
- Colonic and gastric stimulation for gastrointestinal disorders
- Vagus nerve stimulation for epilepsy, obesity, or depression
- Carotid artery stimulation for high blood pressure
- Spinal cord stimulation for ischemic disease (angina or peripheral vascular disease)
Neuromodulation Devices and Manufacturers
Sacral neuromodulation is also known as InterStim™. It provides a small electrical stimulation to the nerves that extend from the sacrum (tailbone) to the bladder. Sacral neuromodulation can help control a leaky bladder and greatly improve a patient’s quality of life for the long-term.
Medtronic neuromodulation devices include pain pumps that deliver a preset dose of pain medication directly to the spinal cord for immediate pain relief.
Abbott neuromodulation devices include a lineup of spinal cord stimulators (SCS) and deep brain stimulation systems.
Advanced Neuromodulation Systems (ANS)
Advanced neuromodulation systems were first purchased by St. Jude Medical in 2005. In 2017, Abbott merged with St. Jude Medical to combine their products and services. The combined company handles the design, development and manufacturing of implantable stimulation systems. These include drug pumps and spinal cord stimulators.
A cochlear implant is a medical device that is surgically implanted to provide a modified sense of sound to a person with hearing loss. This replaces the normal acoustic hearing process with electric signals that stimulate the auditory nerve.
With intensive therapy, an individual with a cochlear implant can learn to speak and interpret sounds.
Internal Neuromodulation Devices
Electrical-stimulation implants operate on slender insulated leads, that are placed beneath the skin with electrical contact tips. These contact tips are placed beside the nerve(s) that target the condition being treated.
The test phase or trial phase is generally measured over the course of several days, using a small external generator to power the pulses.
If the patient responds positively during the test phase, the patient will be scheduled for surgical implantation of the device.
With implanted pumps – containing medications for pain relief or spasms – medications do not have to be given in higher doses as they would when taken by mouth. Implanted pumps allow the medication to skip the digestive process, making smaller doses more effective.
Implanted neuromodulation devices do not serve as a cure for the disease it is designed to treat. Rather, it provides a long-term solution to provide relief from symptoms – improving the patient’s quality of life.
While there are risks associated with the use of neuromodulation, the benefits often outweigh any potential risk. Your physician would recommend an observation period to look out for possible complications, such as infection.
The Benefits of Neuromodulation Devices
- Provides targeting of specific areas of the brain or spinal cord, rather than a systemic approach like use of drugs
- Completely reversible
- Continuous innovation and advancements in technology to improve neuromodulation devices
- Provide symptomatic relief from incurable medical conditions
With the opioid epidemic in the U.S., many people are seeking alternative forms of therapy that do not require use of opioids. Many neuromodulation devices provide symptomatic relief that replaces the need for opioids.
Additionally, the trial phase provides the patient with the ability to try the device before undergoing surgical implantation. There are few options available that are completely reversible, like neuromodulation devices.
Bring Experience to Your Neuromodulation Device Project
If you are considering a neuromodulation device development project, it’s important to have an experienced voice in your corner. With RBC Medical, you can benefit from end-to-end design and manufacturing capabilities within a single company. This simplifies and expedites the entire process, from conception to completion.
You can minimize resource drain by working with an ISO 13425-certified partner that has experience manufacturing thousands of FDA-registered and CE-marked medical devices. Contact us today to learn how we can help get your medical device to market.