rTMS - Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic StimulationrTMS - Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Pioneer Health Albany is pleased to offer the first rTMS service in Albany and the Great Southern. rTMS has the potential to revolutionise how we treat depression and other mental health disorders.

What is Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)?
rTMS is a safe, effective, and non-invasive therapy for depression as well as several other psychiatric and neurological conditions, that does not require any medications. It has been in use for over 30 years and is currently used extensively in North America, Europe as well as Australia. rTMS was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US for treatment resistant depression in 2008 and has since been granted similar regulatory approval in Australia. The treatment works on the principle of neuromodulation of the brain circuitry. This is achieved by stimulating the surface layer of the brain (also called the “cortex”) with magnetic impulses using a rTMS machine and coil assembly. These impulses activate brain circuits which are implicated in depression. 

Will rTMS work for my depression?
rTMS has been extensively studied and we have high quality evidence for its efficacy in depression. Most patients who undergo rTMS therapy have greater than 50% improvement in their depressive symptoms. Some 30% of patients will go into remission (i.e. be free of depression for months). The response rate for rTMS used in depression compares favourably to anti-depressant tablets. For depressed patients who have failed to respond to a number of anti-depressants (i.e. treatment resistant depression) rTMS is especially useful. 
Will rTMS work for other conditions?
There is increasing evidence that rTMS is effective for a number of other conditions, including:
•    Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
•    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
•    Bipolar Affective Disorder (depressive phase)
•    Tinnitus
•    Addiction (such as smoking and alcohol)
•    Chronic Pain

There is currently research underway into rTMS for dementia, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, eating disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, autism and attention deficit disorder.

Are there any side-effects from rTMS?
rTMS has been proven to be a safe treatment.
Common side effects are:
•    Headache (which often settles after the first few sessions)
•    Scalp discomfort
•    Noise related discomfort (ear plugs are worn during treatment for this reason)
Rare side effects are:
•    Seizure (this is very rare and occurs at a rate of 1:30,000. This rate is actually lower than the seizure rate associated with anti-depressant medications.)
•    Mood elevation (which settles once rTMS therapy is withdrawn.)

Are there any conditions that would preclude me from having rTMS?
rTMS is not recommended if you have a history of:
•    Epilepsy
•    Recent brain pathology (such as a recent stroke, head injury or growing brain tumour)
•    Cochlear implant.
•    Metal in your head and neck region (such as facial or cranial plates or metallic foreign bodies in your eye)
rTMS may be safe for you if you have a history of: 
•    Pacemaker or spinal cord stimulator implants that is deemed MRI safe
•    Stainless steel or titanium implants that re MRI safe
•    Current pregnancy

If you are interested in learning more about rTMS please call Pioneer Health on 9842 2822 and ask for our rTMS program admin officer Mel McRae. You can download a printable version of the rTMS information here


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