Neuromodulation in 2035: The Neurology Future Forecasting Series

Neuromodulation devices are approved in the United States for the treatment of movement disorders, epilepsy, pain, and depression, and are used off-label for other neurologic indications. By 2035, advances in our understanding of neuroanatomical networks and in the mechanism of action of stimulation, coupled with developments in material science, miniaturization, energy storage, and delivery, will expand the use of neuromodulation devices. Neuromodulation approaches are flexible and modifiable. Stimulation can be targeted to a dysfunctional brain focus, region, or network, and can be delivered as a single treatment, continuously, according to a duty cycle, or in response to physiologic changes. Programming can be titrated and modified based on the clinical response or a physiologic biomarker. In addition to keeping pace with clinical and technological developments, neurologists in 2035 will need to navigate complex ethical and economic considerations to ensure access to neuromodulation technology for a rapidly expanding population of patients. This article provides an overview of systems in use today and those that are anticipated and highlights the opportunities and challenges for the future, some of which are technical, but most of which will be addressed by learning about brain networks, and from rapidly growing experience with neuromodulation devices.

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