A new medical treatment that sends magnetic pulses to the brain has been found effective for some people battling major depression. Studies show the treatment might also be effective in reducing migraine headaches and helping stroke victims regain mobility and use of motor skills.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) treatment uses magnetic pulses to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. It is a non-invasive outpatient treatment, meaning that it doesn't require anesthesia, surgery or recovery time in a hospital. Previous studies have shown as much as a 50 percent reduction in depression symptoms by patients using TMS therapy.
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TMS therapy is approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for use on adult patients who have tried antidepressant medication but failed to see any results. TMS treatment is currently offered by a few select providers throughout the country and is not yet routinely covered by health insurance plans.
How TMS therapy works TMS therapy is administered by placing a treatment coil lightly against the scalp of a patient while they sit in a reclining chair.
The coil then emits magnetic fields directly to the portion of the brain involved with mood regulation. Small electrical currents are produced by the magnetic fields. The currents proceed to alter cell activity in the brain, which is thought to be effective in reducing depression symptoms.