Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) involves a series of short magnetic pulses directed to the brain to stimulate nerve cells. The magnetic pulses stimulate area neurons and change the functioning of the brain circuits involved.
Since 1985, research has been conducted with TMS to understand and treat a number of neurological conditions (i.e. migraine, Parkinson’s disease, tinnitus) and psychiatric conditions (i.e. depression and auditory hallucinations in individuals with schizophrenia). Most recently, researchers have been focusing on the use of repetitive TMS pulses (rTMS) as a treatment option for major depressive disorder, auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia, cognitive disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder.
Rapidly changing magnetic pulses cause neurons to change their firing pattern within the brain. By changing the firing pattern of neurons in brain circuits involved in a disorder such as depression, the dysfunctional brain patterns can change. The brain activity changes are thought to be a mechanism through which treatment occurs.
The patient remains awake during the procedure and can return to normal daily activities immediately following (no medication or anesthesia is required). The patient will be sitting comfortably in a recliner throughout the session. A treatment ranges between five minutes and 60 minutes. A typical treatment course is approximately four to six weeks.
rTMS is currently offered in the context of ongoing research studies. We are conducting clinical trials for several psychiatric indications such as major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, eating disorders and smoking cessation. You must meet with a study coordinator in order to review the eligibility criteria in order to receive rTMS.
You must NOT:
In a very small percentage (less than one per cent) of people, rTMS can cause a self-limiting seizure. For this reason those with a history of seizure (other than from ECT) cannot receive the treatment.
Side effects include involuntary eye blink or contraction of facial muscles (which are not painful and do not continue following the stimulation). Dizziness or light-headedness can occur after a treatment and it usually goes away quickly. Pain at the site of stimulation can occur as people adjust to the sensation of the treatment. Mild headache can occur in about one-quarter of people, but this usually goes away within 24 hours or with administration of acetaminophen (i.e. “Tylenol”).
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