Over the years, a great number of technologies have been crafted to help humankind. Without some of these things, life would be much more difficult than it already is. Medical equipment is among the most useful technological innovations to date, and has helped make the lives of millions better. Deep brain stimulation and deep transcranial magnetic stimulation are two technologies that work to make some people’s lives easier. While the names of these treatments sound similar, they are quite different in nature.
What is Deep Brain Stimulation?
Deep brain stimulation, also referred to as DBS, is a surgical procedure in which an electrode(s) is surgically implanted into the brain. The original purpose of the technology was to help control symptoms experienced by those with movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s. Today, the practice has been expanded to include treatment for a few other conditions, as well. Depression and nicotine dependence are among some of the conditions that can be treated with DBS. The electrodes, (the technical name is a ‘lead’), are attached to a device called a neurostimulator, which is embedded within the chest. In order to connect these two items, an insulated wire, an extension, that runs behind the ear, down the back of the neck, and over the shoulder is also implanted. The neurostimulator is similar to a pacemaker; which produces electric pulses that are transmitted to the brain. People who have a DBS device are given an external remote control that allows them to turn it on and off whenever they wish. In some cases, the device remains on at all times, but not always.
The core concept behind this technology is that areas of the brain that play a role in regulating normative functioning are imbalanced. The belief is that certain conditions are caused by hypo/hyperactivity in certain brain structures. The electricity that is produced by the DBS implants acts as a neutralizer, and is thought to return the brain back to homeostasis. In turn, symptoms of the illness being treated are reduced.
Deep brain stimulation is regarded as relatively safe, with few complications for the majority of people. For every 100 people who have a DBS implant, three will have side effects severe enough to potentially cause long-term damage, says Cleveland Clinics. A less detrimental, more common side effect is the development of a post-surgery infection, which occur in 15% of people who receive deep brain stimulation treatment, notes Cleveland Clinics. Brain damage from the device, and rejection (when the body forces the implant out) are rare. Each person who opts for this treatment will undergo two separate surgeries, as the neurostimulator and electrode are implanted approximately one week apart. The two-step process allows the body to heal before another invasive operation is performed.
What is Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation?
Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation, also known as deep TMS, is a therapy that was developed by Brainsway. It is used in the treatment of a multitude of ailments, such as smoking cessation and depression. Much like DBS, it uses a form of electricity to stimulate centers of the brain. Unlike deep brain stimulation, deep TMS is non-invasive; instead of surgery, people are administered deep TMS via a helmet filled with electric coils. The helmet is also padded so that the wearer is more comfortable during the procedure. As well, the machinery has a cooling system installed, so that overheating does not occur. During this treatment, patients are awake and do not experience any pain. A single session of deep TMS lasts only 20 minutes, with the entire course of treatment ranging from four to six weeks. Deep transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy must be repeated daily until the course of treatment is complete. This method allows people to return to daily life immediately after a session is over.
In general, deep TMS is well tolerated by the majority of those who receive treatment. However, some people do experience headaches afterwards, which tend to dissipate within a few hours. Also, pain at the application site, the place where the coils made contact with the skin, is common. On very rare occasion, seizures will occur during or after a deep TMS session. To date, over 4,000 deep TMS procedures have been administered, and only six people have experienced seizures, says Clinical TMS Society. In every single case, participants had added risk factors, such as a family history of seizures, and high drug content in the blood.
Deep brain stimulation and deep transcranial magnetic stimulation both use the power of electricity to treat the symptoms of certain conditions. Despite similar names, they are drastically different. DBS is invasive, while deep TMS is not. As well, they are used to treat different conditions, and have unique side effects. People interested in either of these technologies should contact a doctor for more information.
Westside Neurotherapeutics offers dTMS treatments Los Angeles for depression and smoking cessation. For more information, contact them by phone at 310.946.0008 or visit us online at www.westsideneurotherapeutics.com.