Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a non -invasive procedure which utilizes magnetic fields to painlessly induce electrical current across focused areas of the brain for mood regulation. A relatively new technology, the Food and Drug Administration approved TMS as a treatment modality for patients with major depressive disorder in 2008. TMS is indicated for patients who have not responded well to standard treatments such as psychotherapy or are unable to tolerate antidepressant medications.

A typical treatment, which involves little more than a recliner and the TMS equipment, can be delivered in your doctor’s office. Patients remain awake throughout the session and usually return to normal activities immediately following the completion of treatment.

During the treatment, patients are placed in a reclining position with the TMS coil positioned over the scalp and several pulses are administered to gauge the patient’s motor threshold and determine their personalized treatment levels. Once an appropriate stimulus level is determined, the coil is positioned over the front region of the brain and a physician actively monitors nerve impulses and movements during the 40-minute procedure to ensure appropriate stimulation is achieved.

As with any medical procedure or treatment, TMS may not be appropriate for all patients. Veterans should speak to their providers about overall health, medical history and any contraindications for the therapy.

TMS is generally well-tolerated by patients and is associated with minimal side-effects. The most common side-effects are headaches, scalp discomfort and/or facial twitching which are typically mild, lessen over the course of treatment and can be minimized through adjustment of position and stimulation settings.

Wilkes-Barre is excited to add TMS Therapy as a treatment option for Veterans at the medical center. The TMS unit is on station and experienced staff are excited to be utilizing this technology. We are currently finalizing protocols and policies and anticipate having this service available to Veterans by the end of July.