Center for Cognitive Brain Health

TMS – Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

What is TMS?

TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, is a drug-free, painless, non-invasive form of neuromodulation used for treating a variety of psychiatric disorders, including depression and OCD. TMS is a rapidly growing treatment option for patients who have seen little success from other forms of neuropsychiatric treatment, including psychotherapy and medication therapy.

How does TMS work?

TMS works by stimulating specific areas of the brain that are critical in repairing and protecting against a number of psychiatric symptoms, including those most closely associated with severe depression. To achieve this effect, TMS sends a series of electric currents through conductive wires of an insulated helmet to induce a local magnetic field. These currents, sent in rapid succession, then travel transcrainially to induce a secondary electric current in a predetermined part of the brain.

As the TMS pulses arrive, the underlying part of the brain that is being targeted stays activated longer. When this intervention is used daily, these effects can last weeks, months, or longer. Additionally, the effect of TMS is not limited to the brain area being stimulated, but includes the neural network of structures connected to that site, which generally results in greater overall therapeutic potential.

Are there different types of TMS?

Yes, there are different types of TMS modalities. One type of TMS treatment is known as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), during which brief magnetic pulses are delivered repetitively at varying frequencies. A second form of TMS treatment, deep transcranial magnetic stimulation (dTMS), works in very much the same way as rTMS, but can send electric currents significantly deeper into the brain. This is advantageous because research has shown that deeper prefrontal areas of the brain are more closely linked to the impaired functioning that is seen in depression and other psychiatric disorders.

What type(s) of TMS do we offer at the Center for Cognitive Brain Health at USP?

At CCBH, we offer deep TMS as part of the Brainsway TMS system, which has been FDA-approved for the use of deep TMS for both treatment-resistant depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Deep TMS has also been used to effectively treat several other conditions ranging from anxiety to ADHD to smoking cessation.

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