Transcranial magnetic stimulation shows promise in treating stroke, dementia and migraines

Feb 25, 2020

Transcranial magnetic stimulation has shown significant efficacy in treating major depressive and obsessive compulsive disorders. A newly published literature review by Antonio H Iglesias MD, a Loyola Medicine neurologist and assistant professor at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, highlights the compelling scientific and clinical data supporting further studies into the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat a broader range of common neurological conditions, including stroke, acute migraines and dementia.

A transcranial magnetic stimulation device is made of 1 or 2 copper coils, positioned on an external, targeted area of a patient's scalp, which produces brief, magnetic pulses to an estimated depth of approximately 2 to 2.5 centimeters. The magnetic field triggers changes in neuronal activity and communication, which can alter unwanted activity within the brain.

"Transcranial magnetic stimulation can work as a stimulant or an inhibitor of cerebral activity, or both," says Dr. Iglesias. In addition, different sized coils and varying magnetic impulses can impact outcomes, depending on a patient's neuroplasticity--the capacity for neurons and the nerve cells to change and compensate for injury and disease.

"Most importantly, transcranial magnetic stimulation is well-tolerated by most patients with few side effects," says Dr. Iglesias.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat major depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. According to the article, appearing in the February 4, 2020 journal Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports, there are 1,641 studies underway utilizing transcranial magnetic stimulation to treat a broad array of other neurological disorders, including more than 60 trials alone studying the effects of transcranial magnetic stimulation to diminish or reverse the effects of early dementia. The most promising results are in the treatment of acute migraines and primary progressive aphasia, and the effects of stroke.

"Transcranial magnetic stimulation has now opened the field of neurology in multiple areas," says Dr. Iglesias. "And, there are many variables that could be studied and arranged to improve brain functionality and network connections."

Loyola Medicine is already successfully utilizing transcranial magnetic stimulation in the treatment of depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, and "it is my hope that we can begin to explore utilizing this treatment for dementia, and specifically the early effects of primary progressive aphasia, which can rapidly diminish language and other cognitive skills," says Dr. Iglesias.

Source: News Release
Loyola University Health System
February 24, 2020