HEAL Headliners: Mapping the Path to Relief: Improving Pain and Opioid Use Disorder Through Neuromodulation

Fri, 8/4/2023 - 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Just as pacemakers use electric impulses to correct abnormal heartbeats, neuromodulation therapies and technologies use electric or magnetic stimulation of specific brain regions to help re-establish healthy brain function. In this way, neuromodulation is a novel treatment approach for brain-based disorders such as chronic pain and opioid use disorder. This HEAL webinar explored research progress on neuromodulation for these two conditions, focusing on new technologies tailored to meet the needs of patients. This webinar was held on Friday, August 4, 2023, from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. ET. 

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Topics Covered

Deep Brain Stimulation as a Novel Treatment for Individuals with Chronic Pain (Presenter: Prasad Shirvalkar, M.D., Ph.D.)

Deep brain stimulation to treat chronic pain uses electrodes implanted in specific brain areas to modify and “reset” brain circuits altered by chronic pain. Past attempts to use this neuromodulation technology have targeted only a few of the many brain regions involved in the pain experience. Those studies also provided continuous stimulation, which may cause the brain to adapt and respond less to the stimulation over time. Dr. Shirvalkar described his current work that measured pain-related brain activity in real time from inside the brains of people with chronic pain disorders.

Electrosonic Stimulation for the Treatment of Chronic Pain and Addiction (Presenter: Timothy Wagner, Ph.D.)

As complex sensory and emotional experiences, chronic pain and addiction often involve changes in the brain that convey inappropriate signals. Current noninvasive brain stimulation methods (applied to the scalp) have been investigated for a variety of applications but have limited effectiveness for treating pain and opioid use disorder. Dr. Wagner described the development of a novel noninvasive neuromodulation technique, Electrosonic Stimulation (ESStimTM), for treating chronic pain and addiction. ESStim combines independently controlled electromagnetic and ultrasonic fields to modify brain activity in a more effective and targeted manner to treat pain associated with carpal tunnel syndrome and opioid use disorder.


Prasad Shirvalkar, M.D., Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco 

Prasad Shirvalkar is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Anesthesiology and Neurological Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco. Shirvalkar is a neurologist and interventional pain medicine specialist. His research aims to apply technology-based therapies for hard-to-treat pain disorders, such as post-stroke pain and phantom limb pain. 

Timothy Wagner, Ph.D., Highland Instruments  

Timothy Wagner is the Chief Science Officer of Highland Instruments and a Lecturer at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Health Sciences and Technology Program. At Highland Instruments, Wagner leads the team in the development of the Electrosonic Stimulation (ESStim™) technology, a noninvasive technique that is being tested to treat chronic pain, opioid use disorder, and Parkinson’s disease. 


Nick B. Langhals, Ph.D., National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke 

Nick B. Langhals serves as a Program Director within the Division of Translational Research at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).  He currently manages a grant portfolio in the areas of neurotechnology development, validation, and translation for applications in neuroscience, neurophysiology, movement disorders, pain, neuromodulation, and other interfaces with the nervous system. 

For More Information, Contact:

Carol Gianessi, Ph.D., at [email protected]

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