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The Neurostimulator is used to help chronic pain patients have more productive and comfortable lives. It was first developed in 1960's by medtronic engineers and C.Norman Shealy, M.D. with it's first patient implant in 1967. Since then it has gone through many changes and advancements such as physical equipment design, reliability, flexibility, and overall lifespan of the product.
Neurostimulators use leads, or highly specialized, insulated wires that channel an electrical pulse to specific nerves. This electrical pulse is either generated by an internal battery or an external power source connected by an extension wire. The device is most often inserted near the base of the spine, but is also common near peripheral nerve clusters.
The first installation procedure is to implant the lead for a trial screening. Once the screening is approved, the complete system is installed. The patient then undergoes a trial period begins and lasts for about ten days. After the trial period, the system must be checked on at least once per year.
Neurostimulation is only meant for chronic patients that have been unable to improve their condition through more traditional methods. Within the body there are many different types of sensory nerves that send signals to the brain. Some of these nerves are designed to relay feelings of pressure and pain, whereas others are designed to inhibit the signal of the pain and pressure nerves. These inhibitory nerves serve as a gateway, that chooses whether or not to allow a sensation of pain to reach the brain. In theory, the body can close the gate and not allow pain signals to be sent to the brain causing a block in pain at the site of concern. In chronic pain patients, however, this inhibition does not occurr naturally. If medication does not help releive the pain, then the inhibitory nerves need to be stimulated. This is done electrically via Neurostimulation!
There are two ways which neurostimulation can be applied to a patient with chronic pain. One is a surgically implanted internal system and the other contains both internal and external components. If you choose the completely internal route, the battery power source and leads are implanted by a surgeon. With this system, the following items can be implemented: Improve relief of pain at the site (many experience 50% or more reduction in pain). This can lead to an increase in physical activities and also reduces the use of narcotic medications for temporary pain relief. Aside from this, neurostimulation can save dramatically reduce hospitalization and other procedures, and health care costs while improving a patiences daily life and independance physcially.
Gate Control Theory of Pain - claims neurostimulation can activate the body's natural pain inhibitory system. This theory says that the spinal cord contains a gate by which pain signals flow to the brain. In theory, the body can close the gate and not allow pain signals to be sent to the brain causing a block in pain at the site of concern. The neurostimulation process stimulates the pain-inhibiting nerve fibers, thus masking the pain with a tingling sensation. Ganglion - The technical term for a cluster of similar nerve cells, which are the targets of lead wires. Lead Wire - A specialized, insulated wire that relays electrical pules from the Neurostimulator device to the target ganglion.
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