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The History Of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)


The history of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation has been proven to be a promising tool for neuromodulation and an exceptionally effective treatment for patients suffering from neurological or psychiatric disorders. The impact of TMS has been studied closely for decades, but the study of its clinical applications has widened greatly since the FDA officially approved TMS as a treatment for depression in 2008. Our team at Brain Health Solutions is a strong proponent of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation as a tool to enhance the quality of life for patients struggling with anxiety and depression. In this post, we will be looking at the history of TMS, from its earliest roots to its recognition as an effective treatment.

Early History Of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, a non-invasive form of neuromodulation where a magnetic field is used to create electric currents in the brain through electromagnetic induction, has made leaps and bounds since its inception. We have significant advances in modern technology and research to thank for this. TMS was originally developed as a diagnostic tool, with the ability to modulate cortical excitability through the application of magnetic field pulses, and its development owes much to the field of electrophysiology. Electrophysiology was born in 1771 with the help of Italian physician Luigi Galvani. Shortly thereafter, Galvani’s nephew, Giovanni Aldini, started touring the countryside of Europe to promote the research. 

During this time, the younger Galvani claimed that bioelectricity could reveal the secrets of reanimating dead tissue. In order to prove this theory, Aldini conducted a host of public demonstrations where the application of direct electric currents induced movement in dead animals. While unsuccessful in returning the dead to life, Galvani’s demonstrations sparked an enduring interest in the medical applications of electricity among physicians. By 1937, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) made its presence known in the field of brain stimulation as a treatment designed to manage the manic symptoms of those suffering from schizophrenia. 

However, this treatment was misused and overused until 1976, when the FDA investigated the application of this treatment and the adverse side effects it caused in a variety of patients. This period of time is considered by modern practitioners to be the “darkest hour” for brain stimulation, and it is the origin of many common fears and misconceptions surrounding neuromodulation as a whole. Thankfully, neuromodulation, and psychiatric medicine as a whole, has come a long way since then.

The first device for administering Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation was created by Anthony Barker and his colleagues in 1985, beginning the era of TMS as we know it. The device proved that magnetic stimulation, which modifies the brain’s electrical signals with the help of magnetic fields, can activate specific areas of the brain. The earliest usage of TMS produced twitching in certain parts of the hand. This was achieved by applying TMS to the brain’s motor cortex in the hemisphere responsible for the movement of that specific muscle. When the 1990s rolled around, studies demonstrated that TMS was not only safe but also a very effective treatment for depression. Canada approved the treatment in 2003, and the FDA would follow 5 years later in 2008. In 2010, the American Psychiatric Association included TMS as a prominent treatment for depression. Since then, physicians and scientists have continued to research the effects of TMS, leading to further approvals of TMS as a treatment for Obsessive-Compulsive disorder since 2018, smoking cessation since 2020, and anxious depression since 2021.

How Long Has Transcranial Magnetic Therapy Been Around

Transcranial Magnetic Therapy was invented in 1985 by Anthony Barker and colleagues, who were working at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, England. The first patient to receive transcranial magnetic therapy was a woman with epilepsy who had not responded to medication or other treatments.

When Was TMS Invented?

Anthony Barker was very interested in the potential of magnetic fields to treat neurological disorders, and he continued to work on transcranial magnetic therapy as a possible treatment for a variety of conditions. In the early 2000s, transcranial magnetic therapy began to be used as a treatment for depression, and it is now approved by the FDA for this use. Transcranial magnetic therapy is also being studied as a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and other conditions.

When Was TMS Approved?

The FDA has approved Transcranial Magnetic Therapy as a treatment for Major Depressive Disorder in 2008 in adults who have not responded to other treatments. Transcranial magnetic therapy is also being studied as a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and other conditions. Researchers are hopeful that transcranial magnetic therapy will help people with these conditions improve their symptoms and quality of life.

What Are the Benefits of TMS Therapy?

The potential benefits of transcranial magnetic therapy are still being investigated, but the early results are promising. If you are considering this treatment, be sure to discuss it with your doctor to see if it is right for you. Since then, transcranial magnetic therapy has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including depression, migraines, pain, and Parkinson’s disease.

In most cases, transcranial magnetic therapy is considered safe and effective for the following issues:

  1. TMS therapy for depression

  2. TMS therapy for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

  3. TMS therapy for anxiety

  4. TMS therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

  5. TMS therapy for stroke rehabilitation

  6. TMS therapy for schizophrenia

  7. TMS therapy for Parkinson’s disease

  8. TMS therapy for Alzheimer’s disease

  9. TMS therapy for chronic pain

  10. TMS therapy for nicotine addiction

If you are considering transcranial magnetic therapy for yourself or a loved one, it is important to speak with a qualified healthcare provider to learn more about how TMS Therapy can help you.

Starting TMS Therapy For Your Mental Health

Brain Health Solutions is ready to help you take the next step towards managing your depression and anxiety. BrainHealth Solutions is here to help. Proudly serving Costa Mesa, Irvine, Santa Ana and the rest of Orange County, California. To get started with a treatment plan, contact us today!


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