Those who suffer from Parkinson’s Disease (PD) are in need of effective treatment for their physical and mental health. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for this illness, and what little is known about its origins lead researchers to believe it is genetic and unpreventable. While there may not be a medicine that can bring instant relief, there is hope.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) has existed since the 1980s. Despite its longevity, many patients are unaware of the procedure’s existence, and that TMS may provide effective alternative treatments for the effects of Parkinson’s Disease.
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a nervous system disorder where neurons in the brain begin to break down and die over time and cause changes in motor function. It is a progressive disease, meaning symptoms worsen over time. The main symptoms of Parkinson’s are:
- Tremors- Moving or shaking or limbs, usually beginning in the hands and fingers.
- Slowed Movement- Everyday movement like walking takes more time and effort to accomplish
- Impaired balance- Stooped posture and trouble standing upright
- Soft or inconsistent speech- Speaking at unnatural volumes and speeds, sometimes slurring words
- Writing changes- shaking hands causes handwriting to become inconsistent or illegible.
These and other symptoms can cause the mental health of the patient to suffer as well. Since PD has no cure, but medication or surgery to delay the progression of the disease. It is estimated that over 10 million people worldwide live with PD, and thus there is high demand for more effective treatments against the disease.
Many researchers are exploring the effects of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) on PD because of the disease’s similarities to depression.
How is PD similar to depression?
Both diseases are associated with shortages of dopamine, which can lead to feelings of ambivalence or hopelessness. Patients with PD have reduced dopamine in the brain due to the breakdowns of the cells that create it. Depression is a mood disorder characterized by low dopamine levels and is often a manifestation of PD itself. Medication can only go so far for both, and thus many researchers wonder if alternative treatments to depression could have a positive effect on PD patients.
How does TMS Treatment Work?
TMS is a non-invasive method of stimulating the brain through electromagnetic pulses to the brain from a magnetic field generator coil that uses magnetic pulses similar to MRI machines. Most patients receive TMS five days a week over the course of 36 sessions. TMS sessions usually last 20-30 minutes.
Research on TMS as an Alternative Treatment for Parkinson’s
Some researchers hypothesize that since TMS is so effective neurologically, there is a chance that the pulses could aid the parts of the brain that control movement, which could greatly improve PD patients’ quality of life.
Most studies use groups of patients with PD and measure control groups who receive no treatment, several who are administered only antidepressant medication, and groups who receive TMS.
The results of these experiments reveal that while those PD patients who receive TMS treatment show great improvements to their mental health, there is little to no evidence that the neurostimulation improves motor function.
While it may not relieve the physical effects of PD, several studies concluded promising findings that this connection could exist. A meta-analysis was conducted on all studies that included patients with PD and depression. The analysis included studies that reported pre-and-post-rTMS depression inventory scores. In the findings, it was shown that out of the 7 studies, 6 showed that patients had improvement in their depression.
Another study tested 46 patients with PD and mild to moderate depression with half of the patients receiving rTMS treatment and the other half receiving a placebo. Over 10 days, patients received high-frequency rTMS applied over the primary motor cortex bilaterally. Results found that patients that actually received the treatment saw improvement in their depression and health-related quality of life.
TMS is still considered one of the most effective ways, behind antidepressant medication, to treat the depressive symptoms of those with PD, which will have lasting effects on their mental health over the course of their illness.
TMS is seen as a promising treatment option for many, especially PD’s main sufferers, elderly patients. For the elderly, consumption of antidepressants can cause severe side effects like sudden falls, bleeding, and hyponatremia, meaning low sodium levels in the blood that may lead to muscle cramps, nausea, low energy, and seizures.
Most doctors agree that further research must be done to determine the full effect of TMS on Parkinson’s patients, and only time will tell how effective this treatment is against the deteriorating disease.
Try This Alternative Treatment at Midcity TMS
Many patients with both Parkinson’s Disease and Depression understand how difficult it can be to ask for help. It can be difficult to imagine relief is a possibility, after suffering from debilitating symptoms for so long. While many feel hopeless, alone, and isolated, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone, and there are resources in your area, such as Mid City TMS, that can help.
MidCity TMS offers professional and affordable depression relief. Our credo is to help our patients achieve success in all areas of life, and our highly trained staff is here to help you no matter where you are in your battle against depression. If you would like to know if TMS is the right treatment for you, contact us to take life back for yourself.