People with Tourette syndrome experience long-term benefits after receiving a month of daily transcranial magnetic stimulation that targets the supplemental motor area (SMA) of the brain, according to a new study.
Tourette syndrome is an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder, characterized by multiple physical (motor) tics and at least one vocal (phonic) tic. It is considered a part of a spectrum of tic disorders, which includes transient and chronic tics.
“Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)… involves repetitive generation of a brief, powerful magnetic field by a small coil positioned over the scalp that induces an electric current in the brain,” said Dr. Nong Xiao of Chongqing Medical University, Yuzhong district, China, and team.
The technique was designed as a noninvasive treatment for several neurological and psychiatric disorders including migraine, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease.
For the study, researchers tested the capacity of low-frequency 1 Hz rTMS applied daily (Monday-Friday) over four weeks in treating motor and speech neurological tics in patients with Tourette syndrome. The basis for this was that low-frequency rTMS inhibits and high-frequency rTMS promotes cortical excitability.
The study included 25 children under the age of 16. After four weeks of treatment, the researchers observed no improvements in tic symptoms in six children. However, in 19 children, they saw significant improvements in tic symptoms that lasted until three months, and until six months in 17 children (68 percent).
On average, significant reductions were seen in the scores obtained on various tests by the children at four weeks compared with baseline.
“Low-frequency (1 Hz) rTMS to the SMA significantly improved Tourette syndrome symptoms, suggesting that it is effective on tics, hyperactivity, attention deficit, depression and anxiety in children with Tourette syndrome,” said Xiao and colleagues in the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience.
“These collective results suggest the need for further studies using rTMS as a research and clinical therapeutic tool in psychiatric and neurological diseases, with particular attention to patients with Tourette syndrome.”
Source: Journal of Clinical Neuroscience