The first known brain stimulation attempts using electromagnetic stimulation goes as early as 1896 when Jacques-Arsene d”Arsonval of Paris and Silvanus P. Thompson showed the first ever prototype in London. However, it was not until 1985 when Anthony Barker and his team showed the first successful demonstration of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, England.
How Was it Done?
Barker and his team essentially took a leaf out of Michael Faraday’s book. They made a single Faraday coil and place it above the left prefrontal cortex using a motor strip and saw the right hand moved. Barker’s team first did the experiment on themselves. This single yet monumental experiment created ripples within the medical community. The result created excitement and interest in the international research community about using TMS for various medical usages. Because of such feat producing concrete proof that electromagnetic stimulation of the brain showed a direct tissue response, the medical community credited Anthony Barker as the inventor of TMS.
Brain Stimulation Research Studies
Since its discovery, there was an exponential growth of different international studies on brain stimulation. Majority of these studies focuses on the use of TMS in treating different mental disorders, side effects, and most importantly – its efficacy. Today the field has garnered enough topics to have its own called Brain Stimulation.
Health Canada was the first government body to approve the use of TMS in 1997. Soon after, it got its first official use in treating resistant depression in 2002. The US Food and Drug Administration approved TMS therapy in 2008 after taking into consideration its risk and efficacy.
Today, TMS machine uses electromagnetic wave pulses similar to an MRI machine; it’s generally safe for everyone. Medical providers placed the coil near the prefrontal cortex of the brain associated with depression symptoms. The electromagnetic waves suppress overacting brain regions while activating inactive brain cells. This creates a new chemical balance within the brain structures thus relieving the patients with the depressive symptoms. It’s a simple procedure that does not require any hospitalization, anesthesia, or surgeries. Patients undergoing TMS therapy are kept fully awake and can immediately resume their daily routine following the session.
Some studies even show that lasting effect of TMS without relapse and even without taking antidepressant medications. Numerous research studies have been published since its approval and TMS therapy consistently show great promise of treating resistant major depressive disorder and other mental health diseases.
Just recently, the 2nd International Conference on Brain Stimulation Conference in Barcelona, Spain held on March 6, 2017, awarded Anthony Barker, Ph.D. the International Brain Stimulation award. About a thousand or more people from across the globe attended the conference with professionals from a myriad of disciplines such as neurosurgeons, neurologists, biomedical engineers, psychiatrists, and researchers.
The conference was a great platform for speakers from the international community to present their data and research about the different types of brain stimulation topics. For several days, topics like TMS, deep TMS, ECT, vagus nerve stimulation, effects of ultrasound on brain tissue, and other invasive brain stimulation were presented to the public.
But the highlights of the studies include topics of the potential uses and indications for TMS therapy. Some experts showed different types of research about the future use of TMS for treating addictions such as cocaine, opiates, alcohol, nicotine and even obsessive-compulsive disorder. There was even a research that shows great promise for the potential benefits of TMS in treating pain sufferers and for stroke rehabilitation.
With its success of treating major depressive disorders with no or minimal side effects, TMS therapy is the focus of widespread research studies. TMS providers continue to seek and explore its uses in treating various disorders.