Spinal Cord Stimulators and Ethical Implications

Spinal Cord Stimulator2

Click here to view a Spinal Cord Stimulator Video

Spinal Cord Stimulators are a small device placed under the skin near the spinal cord. It transmits electrical stimulus to the nerve cells close to the spinal cord to help in chronic pain management and is accompanied with a remote control device. There are factors one needs to consider regarding the use and possible abuse of these devices and there is a mandatory psychological evaluation of the patient before implantation. In addition, there are a number of other factors to consider like, are there any individuals who might steal your remote control device and use it as a weapon against you? I personally feel patients with a family history of psychopathy or who have history of substance abuse or a history of physical abuse are at greater risk for SCS abuse and unsuccessful outcomes to therapy when it comes to this form of treatment. A research paper published January 1, 2014 states:

“A number of studies have examined psychological variables associated with response to pain treatment. In general, a handful of risk factors have been identified that correlate with greater risk of unsuccessful outcomes from pain treatment, including pain chronicity and duration, psychological distress, pain-related catastrophizing, a history of abuse or trauma, nicotine use and substance abuse history, poor social support, and significant cognitive deficits. In general, patients with psychiatric comorbidity and high levels of distress, particularly psychopathy/extreme emotionality have poor responses to treatment. It is widely recognized that patients with chronic pain frequently report depression, anxiety, irritability, history of physical/sexual abuse, a personal and family history of mood disorder, and other risk factors for deleterious pain-related outcomes. In chronic pain clinic populations, 50% to 80% of patients with chronic pain had signs of psychopathology, making this the most prevalent comorbidity in these patients. This underscores the importance of psychological evaluation for those under consideration for SCS therapy.”

After the surgery you will notice a small black circular very sore mark located to the right or left of your lower lumbar spine. This is how you will know you’ve been implanted. It is the sight at which the electrical cord was threaded into your spinal cavity. It was not fully disclosed to me that I was having an implant placed in my spine. The surgical procedure I went in for was a “dialation and evacuation of my uterus.” All these years I have been experiencing spinal cord stimulation that resonates from my lower back to my anal cavity to my vaginal cavity and stimulus that generates all the way up to my cerebellum as well as vibration in my lower abdomen. These vibrations would occur in the middle of the night beginning most frequently at 2:00 am. I can only assume that a family member may have my remote control device but no one will truthfully disclose who has it. In addition, with dawn of SERI and Echo Dot, where voice commands are followed mindlessly by some electronic device, how long do you think it will take for some sick psychopath to torture his female wife, girlfriend, or victim with this technology. How well do you trust the people you live with? How well do you trust the people working in the medical field? How well do you trust your doctor? How safe do you feel in a hospital? How well do trust your neighbors?

Additionally, what are the implication for mental illnesses. If nerve stimulators are successful at controlling pain, are their unethical experiments being performed on mentally ill people like, alcoholics, drug addicts, bi-polar depressives, or even prison inmates with high levels of aggression? Nerve pathways, after all, run a super highway network from the brain to various body extremities. What rights do patients have and how are they to be protected? Do state agencies have a right to experiment with this technology on local prison inmates or local welfare recipients? It is obvious this treatment is a form of behavioral control as it helps pain management, but where do we draw the line when it comes to patient’s rights? What groups may be at risk? I’ve already named one, patients with a family history of psychopathy.

To read the full paper click the following link:  Psychological Screening For Spinal Cord Stimulators

 

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