What’s A Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Device?

Henna Geronimo
September 19, 2022

Technology has revolutionized the way we live. It makes performing tasks easier and helps us develop new techniques to progress in various industries.

As it drives significant changes in healthcare, you can expect to see more innovative equipment and procedures that will improve patients’ lives in the years to come. You can leverage various cutting-edge treatments in the mental health field as early as now. One of which is the use of TMS or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation device.

TMS uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. This non-invasive procedure has received clearance from the Food and Drug Administration for treating major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, migraines, and smoking cessation. It also provides multiple benefits, such as minimal side effects, shorter length of treatment, the ability to function normally after the procedure, and long-term results.

TMS offers hope to patients who haven’t found relief from other, more conventional treatments. Despite not being a first-line of treatment, it has the potential to address severe cases of depression and save lives.

transcranial magnetic stimulation machine

What Is TMS?

A Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation device is a groundbreaking treatment modality for patients with mental health and other brain-related conditions. It sends brief magnetic pulses to the brain, leading to cortical stimulation.

The procedure is non-invasive and does not require surgery or craniotomy to stimulate the nerve cells. During each session, an electromagnetic coil is positioned on the scalp. A pulsatile magnetic field depolarizes the neurons for a brief period.

Since the magnetic field is only generated on the scalp’s surface, it doesn’t penetrate the skin, muscles, or bones, making its electrical stimulation electrodeless.

The clinician regulates the level of stimulation depending on your required dose. It could be as low as 1 Hz frequency or as high as 20 Hz.

The generated magnetic field is estimated to be 1.5 Tesla, similar to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Patients undergoing TMS therapy must complete five daily treatment sessions for three to six weeks.

what other illnesses can tms treat

What Other Illnesses Can TMS Treat?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved TMS to treat the following conditions:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Migraines
  • Smoking cessation

Aside from these, various ongoing studies aim to check TMS’ effectiveness for the treatment of other conditions, such as:

  • Addictions
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Borderline personality disorder (BPD)
  • Chronic pain
  • Eating disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Stroke complications
  • Tinnitus and auditory hallucinations
  • Traumatic brain injury

TMS Machine

What Are the Components of A Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Machine?

A TMS machine is made up of different parts, which include:

  • Coil – Made up of an enclosed electromagnet, its main job is to induce an electric field in the brain. It is held over the patient’s head by a mechanical arm and may look like one or more loops.
  • Computer – It regulates the coil and adjusts stimulation parameters, such as pulse intensity, number of pulses, and pulse frequency.
  • Chair with head support – It ensures the patient is comfortable throughout the procedure.
  • Mechanical arm – It links the coil to the computer.

What To Expect During TMS Treatment?

At the start of each session, you will be asked to sit in a dentist-like chair that reclines comfortably. The clinician will put a small device containing the magnetic coil and rest it on your head. This device will deliver magnetic stimulation to your brain’s specific areas while awake.

They will give single-pulse stimulations on your scalp to help them find the right location and settings. After figuring out the right pulse strength, they’ll start performing the treatment. You may feel light tapping sensations from the magnet as the clinician slowly increases the intensity of the magnetic pulses.

There will be clicking sounds during the treatment as the magnet turns on and off. There may also be pauses between a series of pulses to allow the magnet to cool down. The stimulation lasts four seconds with intervals of 25 seconds. The length of treatment varies but can last about 30 to 45 minutes.

what other disorders can tms treat

How Does TMS Work?

The stimulation delivered by the TMS device changes the nerve cell activity in the prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain regulates our mood, processes our emotions, and helps us make decisions.

A person who has major depressive disorder has a less active brain. As TMS stimulates their scalp, the magnetic fields produce small electrical currents. These activate cells within the brain, prompting them to release neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

This restores the chemical imbalance in the brain, which helps relieve the patient’s depressive symptoms.

What Are The Benefits Of TMS?

1. It Does Not Require Surgery

TMS uses a non-invasive technique, so the entire treatment happens without cutting the skin or entering the body. The electromagnetic field produced by the TMS passes through the skull and painlessly stimulates the brain.

2. No Extreme Side Effects

Compared to antidepressant medications, TMS doesn’t cause severe side effects like nausea, weight gain, fatigue, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, and memory loss. Taking antidepressants for a long time may also lead you to experience withdrawal when you abruptly stop.

Electroconvulsive therapy is another alternative treatment for brain disorders, but patients who undergo this complained of headaches, difficulty retaining information, long-term memory loss, confusion, and muscle aches.

TMS has only minimal side effects, which include mild headache and brief scalp discomfort.

3. It Doesn’t Require Anesthesia or Sedation

TMS therapy is usually carried out in outpatient clinics. It doesn’t involve surgery, so no anesthesia is required. Patients can function normally after each session and can drive home alone.

4. TMS Shows Promising Results

According to a Harvard Medical School article, about 50 to 60 percent of people with depression who haven’t found relief from medications experienced a positive response with TMS. About one-third of these patients had complete remission, which means their symptoms disappeared completely.

The transcranial magnetic stimulation device is breaking new ground in mental health treatment. It offers individuals a better quality of life by addressing severe depression and other neurological issues. Conducting well-tolerated and pain-free brain stimulation procedures effectively reduces depression symptoms among patients.

Roots TMS offers personalized care by delivering innovative technology like TMS therapy. Our goal is to provide sustainable relief for patients who have depression, so they can live the life they deserve. Contact us today for an assessment.

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Henna Geronimo
Contributing Writer