Research with Magnetic Stimulation
Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is approved for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder. The use of rTMS for any other purpose is considered investigational.
Please note that transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS, rTMS) with MagPro stimulators is considered investigational in the UK - except for the cleared intended use for treatment of Major Depression Disorder in adult patients who have failed to receive satisfactory improvement from prior antidepressant medication in the current episode.
A vast amount of research using rTMS, for other indications than depression, is ongoing. Areas of research include anxiety, bulimia, migraine, pain, rehabilitation of aphasia and motor disability after stroke, tinnitus, Parkinson's disease, and schizophrenia.
Within some of these research areas, clinical trials are taking place
“Anxiety disorders” is a broad term covering Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Phobic Disorder, and Panic Disorder. Approximately 15 % of the European population and 18 % of the American population are affected by an anxiety disorder.
The symptoms are excessive worrying, uneasiness, apprehension and fear about future uncertainties which is accompanied by physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, feelings of stress, restlessness, poor concentration, irritability, muscle tension and sleep disturbance.
Put very simply, anxiety is caused by irregular brainwaves, increasing the metabolic activity of the brain. These irregular brainwaves can be caused by environmental factors, medical factors, genetics, brain chemistry, substance abuse, or a combination of these. Most commonly it is triggered by everyday stress.
Research indicates that repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is able to normalise the irregular brainwaves, and thus offset the anxiety (Balconi and Ferrari, 2012).
Treatment of Anxiety with rTMS has not yet been approved by a regulatory body, and the treatment is considered investigational.
Rehabilitation of sensory and cognitive function typically involves methods for retraining neural pathways or training new neural pathways to regain or improve neurocognitive functioning that has been diminished by disease or trauma.
Research indicates that magnetic stimulation is able to improve the rehabilitation when used as a co-treatment for indications such as stroke, paresis, spasticity, aphasia/apraxia, pain, neuromuscular disturbances, and movement disorders. In the case of stroke, the loss of voluntary movement in the limbs of one side of the body or loss of speech production or understanding are severe consequences.
As opposed to most of the already used methods, magnetic stimulation is treating the cause and not just the symptoms. Magnetic stimulation is painless as there is no current stimulation across your skin.
Research points towards a method where both the peripheral nerves and the cerebral cortex (the brain) are stimulated in the same session. First, the peripheral nerves are stimulated, followed by stimulation of the brain (transcranial magnetic stimulation). This appears to help the brain retrain or use new circuits to send signals to the nerves telling them to move. (Wupuer et al., 2012;
Struppler et al., 2007
; Struppler et al., 2003;
Glaser et al., 1994; Barker et al., 1987
A vast amount of research shows that the brain is plastic (the ability of the brain to develop new neuronal interconnections) and it is thus possible to regain lost functionality to a certain degree (Pascual-Leone et al., 2005
Research also indicates that magnetic stimulation can improve spatial neglect, which is a common and devastating syndrome following stroke (Cazzoli et al., 2012
On www.clinicaltrials.gov it is possible to follow the development of ongoing clinical trials for using rTMS in rehabilitation after different diseases and traumas (e.g. stroke). It is also possible to find selected research sites.
Rehabilitation with Magnetic Stimulation has not yet been approved by a regulatory body, and the treatment is considered investigational.
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterised by periodically consuming a large amount of food in a short amount of time followed by an attempt to rid oneself of the food consumed, typically by vomiting, taking a laxative or diuretic, and/or excessive exercise. Bulimia nervosa is more likely to occur in women than men.
Research indicates that the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (DMPFC), which is important in impulse control, is underactive in patients with Bulimia Nervosa. Research on the use of repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) of the DMPFC shows promising results in attaining remission (Downar et al., 2012). Research on the use of rTMS on the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) also shows promising results of lowering the cravings of consuming large amount of foods (Van den Eynde et al., 2010).
Treatment of bulimia nervosa with rTMS has not yet been approved by a regulatory body, and the treatment is considered investigational.
Migraine is a chronic disorder with recurrent headaches often in association with a number of autonomic nervous system symptoms. Typically the headache is unilateral (affecting one half of the head) and pulsating in nature, lasting from 2 to 72 hours. Associated symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, increased sensitivity to sound. The pain is generally aggravated by physical activity.
Worldwide, migraine affects more than 10% of the population. In the United States, between 18% and 43% of the population is affected by migraine at some point in their lives. In Europe, migraine affects 12–28% of the population at some point in their lives.
It is believed that migraines are occurring due to a mixture of environmental and genetic factors, and it is known that fluctuating hormone levels may also play a role. During migraine attacks there is evidence of an abnormal electrical activity in the brain, which might be triggered by e.g. the intake of different substances.
Research indicates that repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) might be able to normalise this abnormal electrical activity in the brain (Brighine et al., 2010), and that rTMS for a few days in between the attacks reduces both the amount of migraine attacks as well as the severity of the attacks (Misra et al., 2012).
Treatment of migraine with rTMS has not yet been approved by a regulatory body, and the treatment is considered investigational
Schizophrenia - auditory hallucinations
Auditory hallucination is the false perception of sounds. A common form involves hearing one or more voices, which is often associated with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. Despite intensive treatment with antipsychotic medication, the auditory hallucinations often persist (Shergill SS et al., 1998).
It is anticipated that approximately 75 % of people diagnosed with schizophrenia experience auditory hallucinations. However, these hallucinations are also relatively common in bipolar disorder (20 % to 50 %), in major depression with psychotic features (10 %), and in post-traumatic stress disorder (40 %) (Choong C et al., 2007). Though, not all auditory hallucinations are associated with mental illness.
According to research, the auditory hallucinations might occur as a result of over-activation of the left temporoparietal cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for speech perception (Rosenberg et al., 2011). Research indicates that repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) is able to alter neural activity over the temporoparietal cortex. Studies have shown that when rTMS is used as an adjunct to antipsychotic medication in treatment-resistant cases, the frequency and severity of auditory hallucinations can be reduced (Waters F., 2010)
Treatment of auditory hallucinations with rTMS has not yet been approved by a regulatory body, and the treatment is considered investigational.