Method to optimize spinal cord stimulation therapy placement and parameters

Unmet Need

Spinal cord stimulation (SCS) is an FDA approved therapy that stimulates the spinal cord using electrical pulses. This therapy is used to treat chronic pain, and it is estimated 50,000 spinal cord stimulating devices are implanted annually. SCS therapy is controlled by pulse amplitude, frequency, and duration. New developments in this therapy have increased the number of electrode contacts and now each individual contact can deliver independent frequencies, amplitudes, and pulse durations. However, programming these parameters and contact placement in the most optimal manner is unclear leading to ineffective pain management. There is a need for a method to optimize the spinal cord stimulation during SCS therapy.


Duke inventors have developed a method to evaluate SCS placement and parameters. This is intended to guide SCS treatment to improve therapy efficiency and effectiveness by informing health care providers of the optimal treatment regimen. Specifically, the inventors have computationally modeled the effect of SCS treatment on spinal cord pain signals. SCS settings and spinal neuron activity were evaluated in rat pain response models. This technology has demonstrated its effectiveness using wide-dynamic range neuron firing as a marker for pain levels.

Other Applications

This technology could also be used to evaluate neuron responses in additional research and development areas such as response to thermal and chemical stimuli.


  • Improves SCS treatment efficacy by determining ideal placment and parameters of stimulation
  • Addresses ideal spatial distribution of therapy to increase therapy efficacy
  • Reduces programming trial and error to speed treatment and reduce medical burden
Image of human vertebrae (Source: Envato)

Duke File (IDF) Number



  • Grill, Warren
  • Gilbert, John "John"

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Pratt School of Engineering