What is transcranial magnetic stimulation?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive method of stimulating nerves in the brain using magnetic fields. The stimulation can target the entire brain, or certain parts of the brain, such as specific nerve networks that cause changes in movement and behaviour. It has been proven to be a safe and effective form of neuromodulation.
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What is it used to treat?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation has been found to be effective for a broad range of medical conditions:
Movement disorders, such as dystonia and tremors, can be treated using transcranial magnetic stimulation. It has been shown to speed up the reaction times in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a condition that affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of symptoms including problems with muscle movement, balance and vision. Transcranial magnetic stimulation has been shown to reduce the fatigue and depression also associated with MS.
Neuropsychiatric conditions including chronic major depression that has not fully responded to medications can be helped with transcranial magnetic stimulation. Studies are also looking at how it may help other neuropsychiatric conditions.
How is it performed and what is involved?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a painless procedure that is performed whilst the patient is awake.
Earplugs are used (to reduce the risk of hearing-related side effects) and a special helmet is worn throughout the procedure. This helmet contains a coil through which an electrical current is passed into the brain.
TMS can be delivered one pulse at a time (single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation), or more commonly using several repeated pulses (repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation).
The length of treatment sessions vary, but usually last around 30 - 40 minutes. A treatment plan typically consists of multiple sessions over weeks or months. Our leading specialists at The London Clinic will be able to design and discuss bespoke treatment plans.
What are the risks?
Transcranial magnetic stimulation is considered to be a safe, non-invasive treatment. However, as with any procedure, there are still some risks to consider. These vary depending on the type and frequency of the procedure, but include:
- Temporary twitching of the face or arms
- Hearing changes that are usually short-term and reversible
- Interruption of working memory (this is very rare and usually short-term)
- Seizure during the treatment, although this is rare.
Our experts at The London Clinic will perform thorough risk assessments and will discuss these with patients considering transcranial magnetic stimulation.
How effective is it?
Over half of all patients who receive a sustained course of TMS for a major depressive disorder achieve a full response. A further 30% of patients have at least a 50% reduction in symptoms.
In the treatment of stroke and multiple sclerosis, the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation alongside physical therapy has been shown to reduce spasticity of the muscles. High-frequency TMS has also been shown to be effective as a treatment for movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease.
Why choose The London Clinic?
At The London Clinic, we are committed to delivering exceptional care within our extensively equipped facility. We have leading specialists and physiotherapy experts working together within a comprehensive multidisciplinary team. From diagnosis to treatment, we strive to ensure that our patients receive fast, safe and individualised care.
To support the treatment of conditions such as stroke and multiple sclerosis, we offer access to the following services:
- A multidisciplinary therapies team, including: physiotherapy and aquatic therapy, occupational therapy, dietetics, and speech & language therapy
- Bespoke one-to-one assessments and treatment programmes incorporating exercise therapy, bespoke hand splinting, acupuncture, fibroendoscopic evaluation of swallow (FEES), video fluoroscopy assessment, Ai Chi, vestibular rehabilitation, falls prevention, electrotherapy, osteopathy and specialist dietary advice and nutritional support
- A wide range of rehabilitation equipment including our AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill®, Biodex™ isokinetic testing machine, and extracorporeal shockwave therapy.
Read more about the array of physical therapies available at our facility.