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Using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to Treat Autism

TMS Use in Various Diseases

For more than two decades, researchers have been exploring TMS therapy for the treatment of several mental problems. In 2008, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed the usage of TMS therapy for treating depression. TMS therapy can improve mood and behavior for patients suffering from mental illnesses. Usually, this method is used on people who do not respond well to medications or more traditional therapies.

The FDA approval is a good indicator that the treatment can effectively help patients. TMS can stimulate the brain cells associated with mood control. However, TMS doesn’t yet have FDA approval in treating autism.

Early Stages of Research for TMS Therapy and Autism

Although have shown that TMS therapy can cure depression, the use of it for several mental disorders is still in its infancy. Today, there is no scientific data for using TMS treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, there are many journal articles that cover TMS use for autism. Still, these studies are either theoretical or review articles based on previous research studies.

Several of these studies have clinical trials, but participants range from one up to 27 people. Taken together the studies have less than 200 participants total. Nevertheless, these studies show positive results in treating the disorder. Several kinds of research also show results that TMS can also help patients in:

  • Undergoing movement rehabilitation after a stroke
  • Decreasing symptoms of schizophrenia
  • Relieving symptoms of anxiety

It is important to note that the FDA does not have any certification of TMS therapy for these physical and mental conditions.

Even with limited participants, the use of TMS therapy in treating autism shows great promise. Using TMS therapy in autism patients is not likely to treat the overall condition of the patient. But it may help enhance certain symptoms associated with the disorder.

These clinical studies discovered that TMS therapy can:

  • Relieve symptoms of irritability for autism patients
  • Lessen repetitive behaviors
  • Improve eye-hand coordination associated with autism disability
  • Enhance social skills of autism patient

Current TMS Studies

With these studies, researchers still can’t pinpoint which symptoms are more responsive to TMS therapy. But this does not stop researchers from discovering the other uses of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation.

TMS therapy has fewer risk compared to other treatments, researchers continue to test the method’s boundaries. Today, there are several ongoing studies about the use of TMS therapy for treating patients with autism.

Some of the known current studies in TMS therapy search for:

  • Overall improvement of autism patients
  • Considering the possible changes in social skills of people with autism
  • Aiming for improving social skills of people with intellectual disability and autism.

What These Results Mean

Although several studies suggested that TMS can lessen some symptoms of autism, they don’t prove that it can treat the disorder. For now, it is still too early to conclude whether TMS can help autism patients, especially if the FDA doesn’t acknowledge much of it.

Currently, studies regarding TMS therapy and autism concentrate on verbal adults. But in theory, a younger brain may benefit more from TMS. However, research need to focus on larger group studies that target verbal and nonverbal patients including children.

Further studies and meticulous research are needed to back up the many theories about TMS therapy and autism.

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