Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a relatively new brain stimulation technique that has gained interest in the potential treatment of a range of neurological disorders.
Described as painless, convenient, and affordable, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was first approved for treatment-resistant depression. Researchers are now exploring whether the treatment could significantly improve memory and other cognitive performance in Alzheimer disease patients.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic pulses to stimulate activity in specific areas of the brain. Most commonly, TMS has been utilized as an alternative treatment for depression and other neurological disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The treatment is now being researched for its effectiveness in treating Alzheimer's disease and symptoms of other neurological diseases, such as Dementia.
TMS treatment works by an electromagnetic coil being placed over the patient's head. This sends magnetic pulses to cause active stimulation in certain areas of the brain. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) simply refers to a repetitive stimulation that is delivered at regular intervals.
Deep brain stimulation is another approach that is being studied. Although similar to TMS, it requires a medical procedure where an electrode is placed inside the brain.
An abundance of research has supported that TMS treatment is a safe and effective alternative treatment method and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating depression. A review of randomized trials reported that only minor mild side effects were recorded in both rTMS and control groups.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of Dementia and is recognized by the progressive deterioration of global and cognitive function. In its early stages, short-term memory is compromised and other behavioral symptoms are apparent, such as anger. As the disease progresses, characteristic symptoms begin to develop, such as Dementia. The progression and different stages of the disease are followed by the Mini-Mental State Examination which assesses symptoms through a series of daily questions.
Typical treatment of Alzheimer's disease includes medications that slow down the progression of the disease. However, the effectiveness of treatment is affected by late diagnoses, where around 60% of the brain cells have already been damaged.
New research has found that TMS treatment could result in improved cognition and memory in patients living with Alzheimer's disease. A number of studies have researched the effectiveness of TMS for people who have suffered impairment in their cognitive functioning, whether this is through Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment, or other types of Dementia. A study carried out found that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation helped improve working memory in older adults and healthy young adults.
The application of transcranial magnetic stimulation combined with cognitive training is deemed to be the most effective. Regular testing should be carried out before, during, and after treatment, to assess if there has been any significant improvement in the reduction of symptoms. Researchers conducted a study to assess cognitive training and TMS benefits on cognitive functioning. Participants received both forms of treatment every day for six weeks and then twice a week for the following three months.
Cognitive functioning was assessed before the study, six weeks after starting, and then finally four and a half months later. To assess effectiveness, the Alzheimer's Disease Scale-Cognitive was utilized, which recorded an improvement of 4 points at the check-in points.
Read more: The use of TMS and Benzo for depression
Dementia is not one specific disease but an umbrella term used to describe a multitude of symptoms characterized by a cognitive decline, for example in memory and thinking skills. Alzheimer's disease contributes to around 60-80% of Dementia cases.
Those living with Dementia exhibit short-term memory impairment, such as naming ability, and inability to keep track of payments on bills, prepare meals, or remember appointments. The symptoms are progressive and intensify as time goes on.
TMS has been proven to be effective in minimizing the symptoms of Dementia in ways that other interventions have failed to do so. Studies involving the application of rTMS without cognitive training have also proven its effectiveness. After receiving rTMS treatment, individuals showed improvements in object naming ability, auditory sentence comprehension, and action naming.
Research carried out in 2019 found that a short-term form of TMS can even aid in improving long-term memory and working memory performance in older adults. The study assessed recognition and recollection memory and found that active stimulation led to a 31% improvement in recollection.
A review of a number of studies found that TMS was effective in the treatment group but not in the control group. The research found that TMS enhanced episodic memory with improvement in cognitive scores for a period of four months, suggesting that the long-term treatment of TMS is required for a lasting improvement.
When TMS has been used for the treatment of depression, patients have reported an improvement in their symptoms around two weeks after treatment, while others did not report changes until week five of treatment.
There are currently multiple clinical trials underway to continue researching the treatment's use for other neurological disorders.
Read more: Is TMS right for me?
At GIA Miami, we offer the most up-to-date and advanced evidence-based treatment that is individualized to fit each client's needs. We offer many cutting-edge technologies to offer you the best chance of recovery, including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).
Our ultimate goal is to help you improve the quality of your life by using a whole brain-body approach. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is recognized as being effective in treating a range of neurological conditions, such as Alzheimer's disease (AD). Our personalized TMS treatment plans can improve cognitive functions and memory by targeting specific areas of the brain.
If you are seeking treatment options for Alzheimer's disease, our treatment plans offer an alternative and effective method in slowing down the symptoms and improving the quality of life of people with Alzheimer's disease and Dementia. Contact us today to see how we can help you.
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