Health Equity & Brain Stimulation in the Spotlight

AABM News Roundup: April 2021

Lead Stories: April 2021

There’s a growing focus on equity across the entire healthcare field. In neuromodulation, unfortunately, disparities are emerging in access to deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy for chronic pain. Two researchers, Myrdalis Diaz-Ramirez and Stephanie Venterpool, were interviewed by NeuroNews in April and explained the issue — and how to address it:

“The tendency is for neuromodulation therapies to be offered or more accessible to Caucasian men, with private insurance, fewer comorbidities, seen at higher volume hospitals, and with higher income household. … African American patients who met characteristics for DBS received the procedure much less frequently than non-African Americans.” — Myrdalis Diaz Ramiriz

“As a senior clinician, you want to ensure that any unconscious bias or conscious biases that you have are appropriately addressed and not interfering with your patient interactions. The best way to do this is to make sure that you are making an accurate diagnosis for any patient that comes in front of you, regardless of their race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.” — Stephanie Venterpool

Read the full article: “Greater outreach needed for women and minority pain patients.”

A viral video released by Neuralink this month shows a monkey with a brain implant controlling a simple video game with its mind. Reuters reports on the breakthrough and quotes Elon Musk:

“Later versions will be able to shunt signals from Neuralinks in brain to Neuralinks in body motor/sensory neuron clusters, thus enabling, for example, paraplegics to walk again. The device is implanted flush with skull & charges wirelessly, so you look & feel totally normal.”

The New Yorker examines the complex effects experienced by some patients with brain implants, highlighting one woman’s experience with the NeuroVista device designed to predict epileptic seizures:

“Scientifically, the NeuroVista trial was a success, validating its underlying concept and generating a wealth of useful data. It was a success for [Rita] Leggett, too, but in a way that was deeper and more complex than either she or the researchers had anticipated. The goal had been simple: to improve her life by giving her more control over her condition. The effect, though, had been to make Leggett feel like an entirely new person. She had never had a self that she could trust before. When I talked to her, she spoke of the device as if it were a partner. “We were calibrated together,” she said. “We became one.”

Find the full story here: “Do Brain Implants Change Your Identity?”

More Bioelectronic Medicine Headlines From April

Corporate News

GE & Feinstein Liver Stim Provides New Pathway in Bioelectronic Medicine to Treat Obesity, MD+DI, April 5, 2021

  • In preclinical research, a noninvasive targeted stimulation of the liver is being shown to have significant implications for patients with obesity.
  • “The [peripheral ultrasound stimulation or pFUS] device is targeted to a specific site — the porta hepatis or neural plexus of the liver — which lets the stimulation alter the message to the brain…the pFUS treatment resulted in reduced body weight, reduced desire to eat more, and improved insulin resistance.”

Nerivio Wearable Therapeutic Now Eligible for Insurance Coverage through UpScript’s Telemedicine Platform, press release, April 12, 2021

  • Theranica announced that its FDA-approved Nerivio wearable therapeutic treatment for migraine is now eligible for insurance coverage through the UpScript direct-to-patient telemedicine platform.
  • “Nerivio deploys remote electrical neuromodulation to activate the body’s native conditioned pain modulation mechanism to treat headache and other symptoms associated with migraine.”

Research News

Deep Brain Stimulation Benefits Sustained for Years, Parkinsons News Today, April 29, 2021

  • A poster presented at the 2021 Virtual American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting showed that “DBS can lessen motor function impairments and reduce the need for medication for up to 10 years in people with Parkinson’s disease.”



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