Neurology Central

The future of neuromodulation: an interview with Timothy Deer, President of the International Neuromodulation Society

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As part of our Spotlight on neuromodulation, we spoke to Timothy Deer, Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology at West Virginia University (VW, USA) and President of the International Neuromodulation Society (INS). Dr Deer has already led an accomplished career, and speaks in this interview about his highlights, most memorable patient cases, and looks ahead at future challenges and trends in the field of neuromodulation.

Please could you tell us a little about your background and current roles?

I am a native of West Virginia. I attended medical school at The West Virginia University School of Medicine (WV, USA) and then did training at the University of Virginia (VA, USA) in Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine. I am now the President of the International Neuromodulation Society, a society focused on research, development and advancement of the use of implantable devices to modify the nervous system and disease states. I am past President of the Committee on Pain Medicine of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, and current president of the West Virginia Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. I am Clinical Professor of Anesthesiology at West Virginia University.

Much of your research has focused on dorsal root ganglion stimulation – could you tell us some more about this? What are the major uses of this technique?

I have been involved in the research of stimulation of the dorsal root ganglion since the beginning of the technique about a decade ago. The research advanced from a single human proof-of-concept, to an open-label, multicenter acute study, to a multicenter prospective study. In 2017, we published the results of the US Pivotal Multicenter Prospective Randomized Study, which showed dorsal root ganglion stimulation to be superior to conventional stimulation.  The major uses are for nerve pain in specific areas such as after surgery, trauma or systemic nerve injury, for example neuropathic pain of the feet or hands. The uses are different based on the country of use, and the therapy is used worldwide.

Do you think there will be a day when neuromodulation will be the standard in chronic pain treatment? What hurdles would need to be overcome in order to achieve this?

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