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Trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy demonstrated

August 13, 2012
by Dennis Grantham, Editor-in-Chief
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Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy uses magnetic field pulses to stimulate the brain's pre-frontal cortex.

This interesting article and video from the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch show how trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy is administered to a patient.  TMS therapy, which uses a highly focused, pulsed magnetic field to stimulate function in targeted areas of the brain, was cleared by the FDA in October 2008 as a treatment for depression in patients that do not respond to antidepressant medications.  Some patients appear to have very good results, while others do not report a change.  

With all of its tapping noices, this therapy sounds a lot like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which of course is used to identify physical problems--like what was wrong with my knee--instead of x-rays or a CAT scan. But, of course, TMS doesn't do imaging.  Instead, TMS therapy directs a series of magnetic pulses at a targeted area in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain.  These pulses are believed to stimulate activity in the area and promote the release of neurotransmitters. For depression sufferers, TMS offers a much gentler (though longer) course of treatment than electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in that it can be received while conscious and that it has no effect on memories.  A typical course of TMS treatment involves daily visits of about 40 minutes for a course of four to six weeks.

The major maker of TMS equipment is Neuronetics (Malvern, Penn.) In the years that we have covered the topic of TMS, its popularity certainly seems to have grown, with more and more hospitals and behavioral health providers around the US now offering the service.  

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Comments

It was great to see you speak to the one of the newest innovations available for major depressive disorder. As you reported last year a decision was made by our CMHC in August of 2010 to adopt this technology and become the first in the nation CMHC to do so. Since then we are making tremendous progress with reimbursement insurance with NHIC/Medicare deciding to have the first coverage policy in the nation. And this past week, Anthem Insurance of New Hampshire issuing a coverage policy as well. Furthermore, we have been informed of Vermont Medicaid paying for TMS on a prior authorization basis. My goal is to completely eliminate the financial barrier as a consideration for those who are interested in TMS.
Vic Topo, President/CEO
Center For Life Management
Derry, New Hampshire

Dennis Grantham

Dennis Grantham

@BH_dgrantham

www.behavioral.net