What is TMS Therapy?

June 25, 2024

What is TMS therapy? Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a type of brain stimulation therapy. It is a noninvasive treatment that uses electromagnetic pulses to…

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Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a type of brain stimulation therapy. It is a noninvasive treatment that uses electromagnetic pulses to stimulate brain nerve cells, which may improve symptoms of neurological or mental health disorders. It is best described as a low-level MRI where patients wear a small cap with electrode connections.

TMS is primarily used to treat depression but has seen rapid growth in all mental health areas including addiction. It’s had success improving symptoms for adults who don’t respond to traditional medication and talk therapy. The FDA approved TMS therapy 2008, but it’s growth has only risen in the last three years. However, most new patients must undergo an initial assessment to determine if TMS is right for them. At the same time, most major insurance providers will insist on traditional techniques prior to approving Transcranial magnetic stimulation.

“TMS affects the activity of nerve cells in your brain, which may help with depression, substance use disorder, anxiety, and PTSD. The technique may also improve motor skill function. It’s currently viewed as a win-win without side-effects and may eliminate the need for medication. Of course, results can vary.”

What Happens During TMS Therapy?

TMS is performed in an outpatient (or inpatient) setting by a certified TMS technician. Much the same as an MRI, you will need to remove mental items that are sensitive to magnets.

The simple procedure is best depicted as follows:

  • You will wear earplugs to reduce the clicking sound of magnetic impulses while sitting a “dentist” type of chair.
  • The technician will measure your head to determine where to place the magnetic coils.
  • Your technician will place the coil above the front area of your brain. Once you are comfortable, the tech will the treatment.
  • Patients hear a clicking sound as the magnetic impulses are released. Typically, patients feel a light tapping sensation under the magnetic coils.
  • The therapy ranges from 30 to 60 minutes. You can drive yourself home and immediately resume daily activities.

The recommended protocol is 5 sessions a week, for about six weeks. Your practitioner will determine length of your treatment depending on your response and specific mental health disorder.

How Successful is Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?

While there is no long-term data to support overall efficacy, the statistics available from most TMS providers, the success rate is about 70%. More specifically, patients receiving regular treatments report symptom relief after the treatment. Around 50% of patients experience dramatic decrease, meaning they feel symptom free.

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