Trans Cranial Magnetic Stimulation System (TMS)

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a noninvasive procedure to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of TMS for certain medical conditions, such as migraine with aura, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). There are ongoing studies on using transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat other conditions including stroke, spinal cord injury, spasticity, and psychological disorders like eating disorders and schizophrenia.

The principle of the transcranial magnetic stimulation system is stimulation of the brain through a treatment coil. Electromagnetic waves used are similar to those in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine—a mild electromagnetic current that stimulates the nerve cells without causing any pain and is generally safe.

Although the mechanism of how transcranial magnetic stimulation works is still being studied, researches have shown that repetitive magnetic pulses causes changes in the nerve circuits and reduces the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical system, leading to changes in the neurotransmitters. In stroke patients, when brain cells are destroyed, brain function is compromised. Transcranial magnetic stimulation is used to stimulate the damaged part of the brain to improve function as well as stimulate important hormones, such as growth hormones and brain-derivated neurotopic factor, while reducing signals sent by the normal parts of the brain to the damaged parts.

Currently transcranial magnetic stimulation is frequently used to rehabilitate stroke patients who have weakness of the arms and legs, troubled speaking, and difficulty swallowing. It is considered a safe treatment option. It is highly effective when combined with physical therapy.

Benefits for Stroke Patients
The specific benefits of transcranial magnetic stimulation for stroke patients vary from the patient to patient and some may respond better than the others. Some may have positive see results early while others may respond more slowly or even have no response. However many studies of different neurological diseases, especially stroke, have shown that transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment is effective in the following ways:
  • Increases ability to use the hands, improves grip strength and decreases reaction time in stroke patients with minimal impairment
  • Increases efficiency of the nervous system in charge of the muscles on the weakened side of stroke patients with mild impairment
  • Increases ability to communicate in patients who have lost the ability to use or understand language (aphasia)
  • Improves swallowing ability in stroke patients.(dysphagia)
Furthermore, many studies on neurological disorders like Parkinson’s have shown that transcranial magnetic stimulation helps reducing decrease abnormal movements, speeding up the movement, decreasing bradykinesia (slow movement), and improves upper body movement, but does not affect overall ability.
Physical and/or occupational therapy, However, transcranial magnetic stimulation along with the physical rehabilitation may facilitate neurological improvement.

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