Our understanding of neurons (brain cells) is quite basic. We know that chemicals, known as neurotransmitters, are passed from one neuron to another via a synapse. However, some neurotransmitters have now been identified as neuromodulators.
Examples of these include dopamine, serotonin, histamine, and acetylcholine, amongst others. A neuron that secretes a neuromodulator is able to regulate not just a post-synaptic neuron, but a vast population of various neurons. This means that a small group of neurons can affect and regulate large areas of the nervous system thanks to these neuromodulatory transmitters.
This new understanding has led to subsequent breakthroughs in medical technology and treatments. There is now a medical procedure known as neuromodulation. This treatment is used to provide effective pain relief, and other healing effects, by altering the function of the nervous system.
Neuromodulation can take several forms. It can consist of infusing substances into the cerebrospinal fluid, electrical stimulation, and even creating lesions in specific regions of the nervous system.
Electrical stimulation is supplied by devices that are either surgically implanted, or external devices that provide transcutaneous stimulation.
Boston Scientific neuromodulation treatment has helped more than 5000 patients who previously suffered from chronic pain. Their innovative technology, the “Precision™ Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) System,” is at the forefront of technological advancements.
It consists of a spinal cord stimulator – the lightest and smallest of its kind. This is a rechargeable stimulator, which is also cordless and portable for maximum comfort and convenience.
Electric signals are transmitted to the spinal cord, intercepting and masking pain signals before they reach the brain. The result is paresthesia – a harmless tingling sensation. This treatment is designed for patients who experience chronic trunk, back or limb pain.
Harvard University’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Centre is a network of rehabilitation facilities that deliver the highest quality of care. The Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Boston has a Neuromodulation Lab.
They are currently involved in a research project that investigates direct current magnetic stimulation as a rehabilitative treatment for stroke survivors. Part of this study involves researching the effects of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).
A small device is used to transfer a low voltage electrical charge to the brain using two electrodes. In particular, the hope is that this treatment, when combined with other factors, will provide long lasting motor recovery in stroke patients.
The other form of neuromodulation performed at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital is transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Here, a magnetic pulse transmits an electrical current to the brain. These pulses can be transmitted repeatedly at a given frequency, which is known as repetitive TMS, or rTMS.
All of these neuromodulation techniques, including tDCS, are completely non-invasive procedures. In addition to post stroke paralysis, other conditions that could possibly be treated with neuromodulation include chronic pain, epilepsy, depression, and other complex neuropsychiatric conditions.
More and more studies are showing promising results when it comes to the positive healing effects of neuromodulation. For example, Medtronic neuromodulation products are advertised as being able to treat a number of conditions.
These products include both noninvasive neurostimulation systems as well as drug delivery systems that are implanted into your body. These systems are used to treat and heal a range of diseases and conditions including “chronic pain, common movement disorders, psychiatric disorders, and urologic and gastrointestinal disorders”. Their products fall under five key categories:
- Deep brain stimulation (DBS) systems – this therapy is used to target symptoms associated with Parkinson’s Disease, essential tremor, dystonia, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
- Targeted drug delivery systems are an alternative form of drug delivery for patients who, for various reasons, are not able to tolerate oral doses. This treatment is used to lessen cancer pain, chronic pain, and severe spasticity.
- Gastric stimulation systems are used to control the nausea and vomiting that is associated with gastroparesis.
- Sacral neuromodulation systems provide long term management of bladder and bowel control. As such, this therapy can be used to treat chronic bowel incontinence, an overactive bladder, and urinary retention (not caused by an obstruction).
- Spinal cord stimulation (neurostimulation) systems are used for the treatment of chronic pain.
It is clear that neuroscience is paving the way for new treatments of many illnesses and medical conditions. A deeper understanding of the functioning of our nervous system has resulted in these innovative neuromodulation treatments. Whether invasive or non-invasive, the stimulation of our neuromodulators can have incredible healing powers.
All neuromodulation therapy should take place under the care of a qualified physician. This technology is still in its infancy, with experiments being conducted into its long-term efficacy and use.
To put this in simple language it is very exciting to see the advances we are making in our medical models. The body is an electrical system that when “out of sync” or experiencing “incongruent” energies shows symptoms that usually show up as pain and suffering. As the body and its energetic needs are better understood, it will be able to be supported in bringing the electromagnetics back into alignment such as being shown by neuromodulation.
The ‘re-alignment’ allows the flow of energy to be moving the blood, therefore the oxygen through it. Oxygen brings life to all of the body and the energy of the body is increased and better able to function at its optimal level.
Take a moment and imagine that the day when we will be able to wave a wand over the body and re-align most anything that is not functioning in harmony in our precious bodies. It is forthcoming.
How about the day when we can actually choose to change our own DNA!
We are gifted to live in such an expansive time where the miracles of healing are happening daily.