MassDevice Podcast: Neuronetics CEO Bruce Shook

NeuroStar Coil system
Neuronetics’ NeuroStar TMS therapy system

Neuronetics Inc. is paving the way for a new type of depression therapy, a non-invasive electromagnetic field treatment designed to stimulate brain cells linked to depression.

Bruce Shook, co-founder, president & CEO, talked to MassDevice about pioneering the market for the only FDA-cleared transcranial magnetic stimulation system to date, his company’s NeuroStar TMS system.

The therapy, which won the FDA nod in 2008, is a rarity in the med-tech world: A device-based approach to a psychiatric disorder.

"The only other widely used device-based therapy in psychiatry is shock therapy, and that’s been around since the 1930s," Shook told us.

While the therapy is not a cure (there is still no known “cure” for depression), clinical tests show that patients treated with NeuroStar experience improvement in anxiety and other symptoms associated with depression, without side effects such as weight gain, sexual dysfunction and nausea often associated with drug therapy.

Patients describe the therapy as a sensation that someone is knocking on your head, according to Shook.

Neurostar uses MRI-strength magnetic field pulses targeted at the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that’s been linked to depression. Using a focused beam, the system treats depression non-systemically and with minimal side effects, which are limited to minor headaches and less than 0.1 percent of patients experience seizures during the procedure.

In an exclusive interview with MassDevice, Shook told us about treating the incurable, the long road to reimbursement and the system’s potential for treating tinnitus, alleviating chronic pain and taming the internal voices that plague schizophrenics.

Click here to listen to MassDevice’s interview with Neuronetics president & CEO Bruce Shook. You can also download an MP3 of the interview by right-clicking.

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