The purpose and mission of the SIG on Neuromodulation is to:
- promote interdisciplinary collaboration among scientists, clinicians and other professionals within the health-care networks world-wide in research and clinical application of neuromodulatory treatment strategies;
- facilitate inter-professional education and training in the field of neuromodulation with particular attention to the clinical application of emergent neuromodulatory techniques for pain and symptom management; and
- establish a platform and forum for on-going professional discourse in order to address emerging issues and to navigate the development of evidence-based practices and policies.
Five Questions for Volker Tronnier, Chair of the SIG on Neuromodulation (SIGN)
(From the September 2015 edition of Pain: E-Monthly)
1. What were the results of the symposia the SIG on Neuromodulation sponsored at the World Congress on Pain and the winter meeting in New York?
The Satellite meeting, “Advances in Neuromodulation: From Molecules to Functional Outcome,” gave an excellent overview of the current noninvasive and invasive stimulation techniques presented by experts of the field from all over the world. Most of the audience was already familiar with many of the presented techniques, so the discussion was quite vivid. On the other hand, it is necessary to demonstrate neuromodulatory therapies to other pain specialists who may be unfamiliar with these techniques. Therefore, we are planning a common Satellite meeting with NeuPSIG at the next World Congress on Pain.
2. What research appears to be most promising in the area of neuromodulation?
Four aspects of research are quite important: New technical hardware—for example, the possibility to stimulate with new parameters in spinal cord stimulation—miniaturization of the systems; closed-loop systems, with the possibility of recognizing pathologic neural activity and counteracting these activities “on demand”; and finally, the aspects of telemetric control of these systems in order to keep the patient in familiar surroundings and increase the quality of life.
3. How would you describe SIGN’s work with NeuPSIG, especially during this Global Year Against Neuropathic Pain?
There is an excellent and fruitful collaboration on different levels between NeuPSIG and SIGN. We are cooperating on a Satellite meeting in Yokohama with the title, “Neuropathic Pain, Diagnosis, and Neuromodulation Therapies.” Especially in neuropathic pain, mechanism-based tailored therapies are necessary based on the different “plus” and “minus” symptoms. (Plus can be allodynia or hyperesthesia; minus can be hypesthesesia, therm-hypesthesia, and other symptoms.) We know that different neuromodulatory techniques have different effects on the subtypes of symptoms of neuropathic pain, and a synergistic effect between medical treatment and neuromodulation sometimes is observed.
4. What are your plans to foster collaboration between SIGN and the International Neuromodulation Society?
INS is a huge society, and SIGN is still a small group. SIGN is mainly involved in pain, while INS covers different aspects of neuromodulation (epilepsy, movement disorders, psychiatric diseases, etc.). Nevertheless, it is important in my opinion to collaborate. SIGN could serve as a scientific motor with regard to basic research and could connect different scientific societies to formulate guidelines, and INS would be able to organize and run clinical studies in order to carry the therapy to and spread it within the medical community.
5. What special projects have SIGN members been involved in?
A very active group of members is studying the different aspects and effects of such noninvasive stimulation therapies as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation and direct current stimulation. These therapies not only will provide pain relief but can be used to treat other neuro-psychiatric diseases such as depression and tinnitus.