About TMS Therapy

What’s New in the Science behind TMS?

Background
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation was FDA approved to treat depression in 2008, and was approved later for treatment of migraine headache. In 2018, the FDA approved a new protocol to treat depression, Thetaburst TMS, and also approved the use of TMS in treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Several other conditions have been researched and successfully treated using TMS, “FDA off-label” protocols. Insurance covers TMS for depression in patients who meet their specific criteria, but usually does not cover conditions other than depression.

Other Conditions Treated with TMS
Other conditions that have been researched and successfully treated using TMS are depression associated with bipolar disorder, PTSD, Smoking cessation, substance use disorders, tinnitus, stroke rehabilitation, autism spectrum disorder, Alzheimer’s disorder, borderline personality disorder, and others. One might wonder how TMS could be helpful in so many conditions? TMS is helpful in several conditions because it affects various networks of the brain, depending on what part of the brain is stimulated, and what stimulation protocol is used.

Thetaburst TMS
The FDA approved thetaburst TMS in 2018, a new form of TMS in which the physics of stimulation is much more efficient. In other words, it takes fewer magnetic pulses and a shorter period of time to be effective. Some research suggests that in the future it may prove to be more effective than older TMS protocols, and it may make feasible treating several areas of the brain in each session. Genesis Behavioral Health has upgraded their equipment and is treating patients with thetaburst TMS.

Accelerated TMS
Accelerated TMS is an exciting new way of delivering TMS with multiple treatments per day, potentially reducing the time needed to achieve improvement to 1-2 weeks rather than the standard 6-7 weeks widely used. This potentially makes treatment possible for those who live too far from a local TMS treatment center to make it feasible, even patients from other countries. Accelerated treatment is being researched as a potential treatment for suicidal ideation.

Improving TMS Success Rates
Research is ongoing to improve the success rates with TMS. One of the strategies being researched is Neuro-Cardiac-Guided TMS. An interesting phenomenon occurs when the brain is stimulated in the location used for the treatment of depression: the heart rate temporarily slows a few beats per minute. Although larger research studies are needed to confirm that using this method to more accurately target the best treatment location is clinically useful, it may be a means of improving success rates. This technique is being used at Genesis with success in some patients who do not initially respond to traditional methods. Sometimes small adjustments in the treatment location make an important difference.

NeuroStar TMS Therapy is a new treatment cleared by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for patients suffering from depression who have not achieved satisfactory improvement from prior antidepressant treatment. TMS stands for “transcranial magnetic stimulation.”

TMS Therapy is a treatment that can be performed in a psychiatrist’s office, under his or her supervision, using a medical device called the NeuroStar TMS Therapy system. NeuroStar TMS Therapy is:

  • Non-invasive, meaning that it does not involve surgery. It does not require any anesthesia or sedation, as the patient remains awake and alert during the treatment
  • Non-systemic, meaning that it is not taken by mouth and does not circulate in the blood stream throughout the body.

The typical initial treatment course consists of at least 5 treatments per week over a 4-6 week period, for an average of 20-30 total treatments. Each treatment session lasts approximately 19-40 minutes, depending on what the doctor determines is the correct protocol.

TMS+YOU is an online community and national patient advocacy site for TMS Therapy. Those considering Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation can connect with patients who have had the treatment to answer questions, share insights, and get the latest information.

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