'Oh, the places you’ll go...' -Dr. Suess (1990) These five simple words, read to -- or by-- most every child, parent or recent graduate for the last 30-plus years, are at the very heart of what powers most of us through life. Our desire to explore new worlds, meet new people, and accomplish great things is what pulls our collective warm feet from under those covers and places them on the cold floor to start the day. Those same five simple words, taken to heart by every person who contributes to Abbott's neuromodulation business, likewise form the very spine of what fuels our mission. Our passion is to design devices and systems that make it possible for many people with chronic pain and movement disorders to regain the ability to pull their collective feet from under their covers and re-engage with the rest of the world, whether that is in their own backyard or around the world. …Like Running Down the Hallway… While being able to jog a hundred feet down a corridor might not seem to be a monumental achievement for a young attorney, in Jim McNasby's case it ushered in a new stage of his journey with Parkinson's Disease, a beginning that offered him independence he had not experienced in years. McNasby took his short run not long after his Abbott InfinityTM Deep Brain Stimulation System (DBS) was fully activated. The Infinity System is made up of a pulse generator, implanted under the skin over the chest, and thin wires, called leads, implanted in the brain. Weak electrical pulses then modulate brain activity to relieve slowness, stiffness, tremor or involuntary movements in brain diseases like Parkinson's Disease. The therapy can also be used to restore ability in Essential Tremor. The leads use advanced technology for excellent precision, providing therapy in the exact areas where it is needed most, potentially helping to maximize control of symptoms while minimizing side-effects. This innovative technology has allowed McNasby and his husband to lead much fuller lives, giving them added independence to do the things they enjoy together and freedom from the daily concerns of well-being, when apart. The system is controlled with a mobile digital device, allowing for the ability to adjust settings for personalized and discreet therapy management. McNasby, General Counsel and Chief People Officer of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, has continued to enjoy life since the system was implanted. “I used to be worried about everything, all day. I had to plan everything out and anticipate what might go wrong and how I'd adjust to it. 'It's freed up my mind, as well as my body. I don't have to waste brain power on routine things. I can spend it on accomplishing more, focusing on everything - and everyone - I want to focus on.' …Or Skiing Down the Mountain… For years, Kevin Beck had been dealing with chronic pain that had only gotten worse since his foot was crushed as a young man in the Navy. Years later, his leg was amputated below the knee but even that did not relieve the increasingly intense pain that took the form of electrical shock-like sensations ripping through his body, starting from the neuroma that had formed at the amputation site and shooting to the base of his brain in bursts that lasted 5-90 seconds each. Five to 20 times per day. Opioids didn't cut it as he still experienced pain and they left him feeling groggy, unable to effectively run his family business, or be a fully functioning member of his family. So Beck went looking for a solution and, with the assistance of his medical team, found the one that would allow him to live the life he wanted. Chronic pain researchers had been looking into the role of the dorsal root ganglion (DRG), a bundle of nerves located at the junction of each sensory nerve to the spinal cord. Pain after nerve trauma, such as seen in Beck's case, is considered ‘causalgia’ which is treated by DRG Stimulation. The medical team chose Abbott's Proclaim™ DRG Neurostimulation System, the only FDA-approved DRG therapy to treat chronic nerve pain conditions, like causalgia (also known as complex regional pain syndrome, or CRPS). The system is designed to deliver low-intensity electrical impulses to the specific junctional area between a peripheral sensory nerve and the spinal cord, known as the DRG. DRG stimulation therapy involves surgically placing a stimulator that targets this DRG structure, thereby relieving pain of the lower limbs due to causalgia. Abbott's medical technology has allowed Beck to take on numerous challenges and activities that he never contemplated being able to do prior to his device implantation. Perhaps none is more impressive than his role as a volunteer member of the local ski rescue team, where the man with one leg who was sidelined due to debilitating chronic pain, comes to the aid of those who have fallen. How did the Proclaim System impact Kevin Beck? Best let him explain: 'I think the Proclaim system has given me back my life and kept me out of a wheelchair. I no longer worry about the neuromas firing off when I am doing any of these things I love. That technology has changed my life. That's way cool.' …Or Holding the Greatest Treasure… One man very likely to be reading the words, 'Oh, the places you'll go,' is Robert, a Marine veteran, lawyer and most importantly to him, father of a young daughter. Over the course of years, a broken leg resulted in nerve damage that caused him chronic pain so overwhelming that he wasn’t confident he could safely carry his little girl. His interventional pain specialist physicians were hopeful Abbott's Proclaim™ XR recharge-free SCS (spinal cord stimulation) device would make a difference. It is the first upgradeable and recharge-free spinal cord stimulation system with a battery that lasts up to 10 years at low-dose settings without ever needing to charge the system. After diagnosing the source of his pain to determine if the Proclaim XR would help reduce Robert in the long-term, his physician performed a trial implant, a temporary placement during which Robert would be able to experience the hoped-for pain relief. 'I used the NeuroSphere™ myPath™ app during the actual trial,' said Robert. This app is designed to conveniently store pain relief information and assist in communication between the patient and healthcare provider. It is used during the crucial trial period between when the neurostimulation therapy is begun and the decision is made regarding whether it will be permanently implanted. It allows patients to connect with Abbott support, access educational materials and, most importantly, track pain and related symptom relief progress by giving the patient an easy-to-use tool to chart their experiences throughout this trial period. 'It helped me gain insight to the pain relief I was receiving during my device trial,' said Robert. 'It allowed me to record my responses to different stimuli, which was helpful information for my doctor.' With myPath, Robert could tell his medical team not only what percentage relief he was experiencing, but also what functional goals he was achieving. Enjoying life with his family, Robert’s neuromodulation device allows him to read to his child and do so much more. 'Now I'm able to push her on the swings and play games, I realize that I can have those moments I thought I'd lost forever. I know that she is safe beside me.' …Or Not Going Very Far at All… Sometimes, of all the places one can travel when relieved of many of the constraints caused by chronic pain or movement disorders, the most eagerly awaited option is to be able stay in your own beautiful backyard. Craig Overman, proud citizen of Newcastle, Wyoming has some of the most scenic views from his house that you could ever hope to see. What he couldn’t see was the hospital – an 11 hour round trip that often required 2-3 days away – where he was treated for his Parkinson’s disease and which was the home base for the medical team that implanted his Abbott InfinityTM DBS System. When the programming was set and the device was turned on, the improvement happened fast. Almost as fast as Overman found himself walking down the hallway. 'Going into the visit where the device was going to be turned on, I couldn't really raise my feet. I just shuffled them. After my doctor did the initial programming, he told me to walk down the hallway. So I tried and I thought, 'Shoot, I can do this.' 'He told me to go faster and I said I can't. He said I could. So I started walking faster and realized that I actually could. It was kind of emotional. Between before turning it on and him turning me loose down that hallway, was like night and day. It was like being confined to a wheelchair and then you can, all of a sudden, get up and walk. It was that kind of satisfaction.' As much as he loved taking on that hallway, Overman was less eager to take on that long drive, instead choosing to take advantage of more Abbott technology. He was ready to be seen remotely in the NeuroSphereTM Virtual Clinic. Before NeuroSphere, a typical telehealth session would have involved the physician asking the patient, in this case one with Parkinson's, questions over a video call regarding their symptoms as well as responses to medications and then have them perform certain tasks. The doctor would then make a treatment plan, prescribe meds that would then be filled, their efficacy would be assessed over weeks, a follow up appointment conducted and so on. With the DBS device and the Virtual Clinic, things move much faster and more efficiently. 'The difference with Virtual Clinic is that when I make an assessment, I can adjust my patient's treatment — the 'dose' is a packet of electrons — by pressing a button on an iPad mini,' said Dr Binith Cheeran, medical director of movement disorders at Abbott. 'And that little message gets sent to a stimulator, which delivers mild electrical pulses to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's. I can assess the effects and titrate the 'dose' immediately. 'I can treat, assess the effect and re-adjust treatment, over minutes,' he said. 'All of that happens securely over Wi-Fi, without leaving the comfort of your home. This is more than just routine telemedicine, this is like a 'digital prescription'. ' This exciting new world is one that Overman likes living in. 'You can see the doctor and he can see you. Everything except the actual touch is just like you're in the doctor's office. We just need an iPhone and the app. My wife aims the video at me so the doctor can see how I'm walking. I can do it from anywhere. Using the app, he can make whatever adjustments are needed and I experience it immediately. 'He has done two major adjustments and I make minor adjustments as needed. He can set up the parameters for me and I adjust within those parameters, usually about every two weeks. I couldn't be happier with how the system works. The remote is very simple. I'm no tech guy so I'm glad it's so easy to use.' Ease of use leads to peace of mind. 'The Virtual Clinic takes out all the worry about driving back and forth. The device makes my life so much better by itself but then you take away the burden of travelling, time away and expense, it just makes it better and better.' Oh, the Places We'll Go… Opening doors to adventures and possibilities that some people with chronic pain and movement disorders thought forever closed, is the mission our neuromodulation team stays focused on at all times. The results of those efforts are exciting. Evolving technologies that reduce chronic pain and treat movement disorders, while improving communication between patients and physicians and enhancing collection of data that can better inform ongoing treatment. The inspiration and ability can come from anywhere or anyone. It can be: An Erika Ross who personifies a culture of progress and science, Independent pain specialists who help their patients thrive with the use of these evolving medical technologies, A Doug Lautner who has the unique ability to see a future that others may not and devise a plan to get there… Or any number of others who will continue to light new paths and improve more lives through their hard work and vision. The path ahead is an exciting one… These are the experiences of these people. Individual experiences, symptoms, situations, and results may vary. The placement of a neurostimulation system requires surgery, which exposes patients to certain risks. Complications such as infection, swelling, bruising and possibly the loss of strength or use in an affected limb or muscle group (e.g. paralysis) are possible. Additional risks such as undesirable changes in stimulation may occur over time. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the possible risks associated with neurostimulation.