Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression and OCD. TMS is typically used when other depression treatments haven't been effective but can be used first if the patient wants to avoid medications (for a variety of reasons) and if the physician approves. (Please note that insurance is less likely to cover the service if used prior to medication).
There are promising results for other uses of TMS therapy in patients with ADHD, autism, tinnitus, neuropathic pain and other neuropsychiatric conditions. Trials are in progress for stroke rehabilitation and smoking cessation. While clinical studies are in progress and TMS is seen as experimental in some cases, we are also looking at our own data to help us determine which protocols are most effective for our patients.
WHAT IS IT?
During a TMS session, an electromagnetic coil is placed against your scalp in various locations depending on indication. The electromagnet delivers a magnetic pulse that stimulates nerve cells in the region of your brain involved in mood control, anxiety and depression. This procedure is NOT ECT or "shock treatment". The patient remains awake and alert. Some patients find the pulses mildly to moderately uncomfortable but the vast majority rapidly adjust to this.
Though the biology of why rTMS works isn't completely understood, the stimulation appears to affect how several large "neural networks", or collections of nerve fibers, are operating. This causes positive changes in the brain which can reduce, and sometimes eliminate, symptoms of depression and anxiety.
HOW IT WORKS?
We work with the patient's insurance carrier. Most often, we are able to obtain an agreement to cover part or all of the cost. This is due to the effectiveness of the treatment and FDA approval for clinical depression.
We are one of the few practices on Long Island to offer a fair and systematized financial hardship option for all of our services, including out of pocket expenses for TMS treatment.
Is it Affordable?
TMS has been proven safe and effective in a number of research studies both in the short term and in long term remission of symptoms.
Approximately 30% of patients with treatment resistant depression will achieve a full remission, 40% will have a partial response and 30% will not respond. It's important to remember that these numbers are for patients who have failed to respond to multiple medication trials and therapy.
Substantial financial and academic resources are being devoted to research on expanding the indications for TMS and improving outcomes. We are excited to be a part of this very hopeful technology and look forward to both creating and obtaining new scientifically sound and evidence based information.