Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation

Synonyms

Cortical modulation, magnet therapy, magnetic stimulation, neuropsychology, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, rTMS.

Background

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) was developed by scientists in the 1980s as a tool for neurodiagnosis, nerve fiber study and the development of a functional brain map.

In the late 1980s, scientists started to use repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for the treatment of depression.

Over time, the use of rTMS has expanded and is currently not only used for the treatment of depression, but also to treat Parkinson's disease, auditory hallucination schizophrenia, tinnitus, migraines, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder as well as other mood disorders.

rTMS is a more specific form of . Magnet therapy is the use of magnets to provide health benefits. rTMS uses a coil rather than a magnet to produce an electrical current and is specifically used on the scalp. Magnet therapy can generally be preformed on any part of the body affected by a specific ailment.

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) was developed by scientists in the 1980s as a tool for neurodiagnosis, nerve fiber study and the development of a functional brain map.

In the late 1980s, scientists started to use repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for the treatment of depression.

Over time, the use of rTMS has expanded and is currently not only used for the treatment of depression, but also to treat Parkinson's disease, auditory hallucination schizophrenia, tinnitus, migraines, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder as well as other mood disorders.

rTMS is a more specific form of . Magnet therapy is the use of magnets to provide health benefits. rTMS uses a coil rather than a magnet to produce an electrical current and is specifically used on the scalp. Magnet therapy can generally be preformed on any part of the body affected by a specific ailment.

Technique

Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation is a procedure in which electrical activity in the brain is influenced by a pulsed magnetic field generated by brief current pulses through figure eight coils of wire. These wires are encased in plastic and held close to the scalp. The location of the device allows for stimulation of specific areas of the cortex (the surface of the brain).

rTMS is non invasive and requires no anesthesia. Few patients report any serious side effects. Mild side effects include headache and the perception of unwanted noise. These problems usually are treated with acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ear plugs respectively.

Theory/evidence

Depression is thought to be caused by a disturbance in activity in the frontal cortex of the brain. When the rTMS device is held close to the scalp, it allows for the non-invasive induction of a current of neurons. This induction is hypothesized to down regulate beta-adrenergic receptors and to subsequently increase the levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. While reported to be safe and painless, some patients do experience a headache, which typically resolves in a few hours and can be treated with acetaminophen.

Based on one randomized control trial, rTMS has been proven to be effective in the treatment of treatment resistant depression. An additional study examined the effect of rTMS on depression in adolescent patients. rTMS again proved to be effective and safe in this randomized control trial. Further research is being conducted as to whether rTMS has equal efficacy in the other areas of use.

Safety

rTMS is non invasive and requires no anesthesia. Few patients report any serious side effects. Mild side effects include headache and the perception of unwanted noise. These problems usually are treated with acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and ear plugs respectively.


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