I want to preface this with saying this blog post is not medical advise and to speak to your attending physician in regards to TMS as a treatment option. Especially to discuss the risks and side effects of treatment.
There has been a lot of media coverage around TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) in the past year and how effective it is for mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and even addictions.
What is TMS?
From the International OCD Foundation:
Recently, psychiatric research has become increasingly focused on the idea that the structure and function of the brain’s “neural networks” might play a part in OCD. Consider your brain from this perspective. Your brain is made up of cells called “neurons” which communicate with each other. When several neurons work together, they are referred to as a circuit or network. If you’ve ever taken apart a computer or other electronic device, you’ve likely seen a green plastic board covered in gold circuits. Much in the way electricity travels through this circuit board to convey information from one part of the computer to another, your brain uses neural networks to convey information from one part of the brain to the other.
So, instead of targeting neurotransmitters (the chemicals used to communicate between individual neurons) researchers are now looking at how neural networks function to communicate from the parts of the brain that regulate, say, emotions to the part of the brain that regulates movement. It is our hope that new treatment methods that focus on neural networks, rather than neurotransmitters, may offer help to those individuals who have not had success with other treatment methods.
-Jeff Szymanski, PhD, Executive Director of the IOCDF
There are a few different machines out there that are used for TMS treatment, that uses magnetic fields with a coil to stimulate the areas of the brain. The treatment is suppose to be well tolerated and non invasive.
The FDA recently approved the Brainsway TMS device for the use of treatment of OCD. The FDA reviewed data from a randomized, multi-center study of 100 patients, of which 49 patients received treatment with the Brainsway device and 51 received treatment with a non-working (sham) device. Patients already receiving OCD treatments (medical management) were maintained at their current dosages throughout the study. The study evaluated the reduction in patients’ Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS) score, a common metric for measuring the severity of a patient’s OCD. The results indicated that 38 percent of patients responded to the Brainsway device (i.e., greater than 30 percent reduction in YBOCS score), whereas 11 percent of patients responded when using the sham device.
To get more information about Brainsway TMS – https://www.brainsway-global.com/
Is TMS coming to Edmonton?
The mental health foundation released the following statement:
We’re happy to announce that, thanks to your contributions, Alberta Health Services (AHS) has been able to move forward with plans to bring the devices to a local primary care center, and has staff spending the summer identifying the ideal location to house the 4 new machines. The Oliver Primary Care Network has expressed interest, and is being carefully considered.
The Edmonton TMS program will be the first in the province, and as such, AHS is taking care to develop a program that they can replicate across the province while maintaining consistency.
Program coordinators are currently connecting with physicians to guide implementation, and will begin hiring staff for operations in the fall. Our goal is to see the machines fully operational in early 2018, and partially operational by the end of this calendar year.
– Mental Health Foundation
I am excited to see that more treatment options are becoming accessible to sufferers and look forward to see new publications around TMS for OCD.