What is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)?
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive neuro-stimulation process that utilizes electromagnetic induction to stimulate portions of the brain, typically the motor cortex, depending on the treatment. The TMS process delivers repetitive, magnetic pulses (ranging from 2-15 Hz) that generate an electrical field through the scalp and skull to the targeted brain region. These pulses induce electrical depolarizations in the brain, known as hot spots, which are measurable on brain activity scans such as an EEG. TMS treatment is primarily used to study the electrical activity of neurons, explore and validate neuronal pathways, and alter cortical excitability and activity, allowing for improved physiological functioning of the brain.
How Does TMS Work?
For TMS therapy, the patient typically sits comfortably in a reclined chair while a specialized coil is held close to their scalp. Upon application of the magnetic field, neurons in the targeted region of the brain fire an electrical signal, raising the level of neuronal activity. The primary goal of TMS treatment is to modulate the excitability or activity of the cortical cells of that area in order to allow neurons to remain active, suppress undesired connections, or reactivate an inactive or inhibited part of the brain. The stimulation strength and timing of the pulses are tailored to the individual patient’s needs.
Benefits of TMS
TMS treatment is a relatively new alternative to pharmaceutical treatments and produces promising results. The safety and effectiveness of TMS is extensively demonstrated in a variety of mental health disorders. TMS treatment is notably beneficial for depression and anxiety, and provides possible therapeutic solutions for psychosis and neurodegenerative diseases. As many traditional depression treatments have not produced promising outcomes, more and more patients with depression are turning to TMS as a treatment solution to achieve symptom relief without the troublesome side effects. Furthermore, the maintenance of cognitive health is critical in aging individuals and TMS has been shown to improve cognitive processing via the reinstatement of neural plasticity, which can help to reduce age-related cognitive decline.
Recommendations for TMS Treatment
TMS is a safe and effective therapy for both disease states and to improve normal brain function. Before beginning TMS treatment, it is important to discuss with your healthcare provider the potential risks and benefits of the treatment, as well as your individual medical history. It is recommended to seek out a provider that is trained in TMS specifically and is able to explain the treatment protocol, its effectiveness, and possible side effects. Finding a provider that understands your particular health needs and has experience with TMS can help to ensure the best results possible.
TMS is an emerging and innovative treatment that doctors are using more and more as a way to reach better clinical outcomes. As the ability to non-invasively alter brain activity and physiology increases, research continues to reinforce the potential effectiveness of TMS as a viable treatment for many different neurological conditions, as well as providing a potential to improve overall brain health.