New Directions

The future directions of neuromodulation,  therapies are exciting as many more treatments are coming on the horizon. A new technology called ‘BrainGate Neural Interface System (Cyberkinetics, Foxborough, MA)’ is being used to analyse brain signals and translate those signals into cursor movements, allowing severely motor-impaired individuals an alternate “pathway” to control a computer with thought, and offers potential for one day restoring some degree of limb movement. This is truly an interesting field.

‘Since the first applications to the treatment of pain with electrical stimulation, numerous newly developed methods, including direct electrical stimulation and drug infusion . . . have made it possible to develop new, very powerful therapeutic approaches to serious clinical conditions. Every new branch soon produces its own ramifications and neuromodulation, looks like a very fast-growing tree.’

– Alim Louis Benabid, MD, PhD, pioneer in developing deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s disease, Clinatec Institute, LETI-Minatec, CEA Grenoble, Grenoble, France1

(Acknowledgement – International Neuromodulation Society)

Transcranial magnetic Stimulation ( TMS)

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain to improve symptoms of depression, and a few other related disorders. Transcranial magnetic stimulation may be tried when other depression treatments haven’t worked. It works well. It is a definitive treatment alternative and is considered non-invasive.

With TMS, a large electromagnetic coil is placed against your scalp near your forehead. The electromagnet used in TMS creates electric currents that stimulate nerve cells in the region of your brain involved in mood control and depression. This is well tested in active clinical trials, and considered quite safe.

Unlike vagus nerve stimulation or deep brain stimulation, TMS doesn’t require surgery or implantation of electrodes. And, unlike electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), it doesn’t cause seizures or require complete sedation with anesthesia. However, TMS does have some risks and can cause some side effects. These can be discussed with your treating doctor at length.

Little preparation is usually needed for TMS. TMS is being performed at Belmont Private Hospital, and will need your GP’s referral to a Psychaitrist who is skilled in this procedure. You don’t need to arrange for someone to drive you home after treatment — unless, for the first treatment, you want someone to drive you so you get a sense of how you’ll feel afterward. TMS is not covered by Medicare or Health Insurers as of yet.

At MARSAI Clinic, we take referral for TMS therapy through GPs, or Colleague Psychiatrists.  We are starting taking referrals from September 2015. This treatment is usually provided as an Inpatient only. It may take 3-4 weeks inpatient treatment to get the full effect of the Therapy. Hence, access to full Private Health Insurance is a necessary imperative. Please contact us for more information.

(Acknowledgement – Professor Colleen Loo and UNSW).

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