Frequently Asked Questions About TMS
When is TMS used?
Why does TMS work?
The frequency of pulse delivery also influences whether brain activity is increased or decreased by a session of TMS. Recent studies also suggest that stimulation over the left and right sides of the brain can have opposite effects on mood regulation.
Who administers TMS?
The TMS technician or physician will always be present to monitor the patient during the treatment. The patient can stop a treatment at any time by asking the staff member present.
What happens during an TMS procedure?
During the first TMS session, several measurements are made to ensure that the TMS coil will be properly positioned over the patient’s head. Once this is done, the TMS coil is placed over the patient’s scalp. The TMS physician along with the TMS technician then measures the patient’s motor threshold, by administering several brief pulses. The motor threshold is the minimum amount of power necessary to make the patient’s thumb twitch, and varies from individual to individual. Measuring the motor threshold helps the physician personalize the treatment settings and determine the amount of energy required to stimulate brain cells.
Once the motor threshold is determined, the coil is then brought forward so that it rests above the front region of the patient’s brain. This may be on the right, left or center depending on the patients unique needs. Treatment is then commenced. During the treatment, patients will hear a series of clicking sounds and will feel a tapping sensation under the treatment coil.
Motor threshold is not checked at every treatment but may be reassessed if there is concern it may have changed, for example, because of a change in medication.
How long is an TMS procedure?
Do I need to be hospitalized for a course of TMS?
What are the side-effects of TMS?
About one third of patients may experience painful scalp sensations or facial twitching with TMS pulses. These too tend to diminish over the course of treatment although adjustments can be made immediately in coil positioning and stimulation settings to reduce discomfort. Blackhawk TMS is very conscientious about insuring the comfort of our patients at all times.
The TMS machine produces some noise and because of this earplugs are given to the patient to use during the treatment. However, some patients may still complain of hearing problems immediately following treatment. No evidence suggests these effects are permanent if earplugs are worn during the treatment. The newer equipment is much quieter than the earlier models so they are therefore very quiet with far less likelihood of hearing involvement.
TMS has not been associated with many of the side-effects caused by antidepressant medications, such as gastrointestinal upset, dry mouth, sexual dysfunction, weight gain, or sedation.
The most serious risk of TMS is seizures. However, the risk of a seizure is exceedingly low, at Blackhawk TMS we follow up-to-date safety guidelines that are designed to minimize the risk of seizures. The seizure risk of TMS is actually less than that of taking medications.
Who cannot get TMS therapy?
- Aneurysm clips or coils
- Stents in the neck or brain
- Deep brain stimulators
- Electrodes to monitor brain activity
- Metallic implants in your ears and eyes
- Shrapnel or bullet fragments in or near the head
- Facial tattoos with metallic or magnetic-sensitive ink(rare)
- Other metal devices or object implanted in or near the head