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Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)

What is Trans Direct Current Stimulation?

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is a form of neurostimiulation which uses extremely low doses of electrical currents delivered directly to the brain through small electrodes. It is a painless and minimally invasive brain stimulation treatment that delivers a constant low electrical current to the brain to modulate neuronal activity by increasing or decreasing how quickly neurons fire.

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation has been shown in numerous studies to enhance cognitive function on a variety of tasks, depending on the area of the brain being stimulated and successfully used to treat depression, chronic pain, motor function and memory among other conditions.

Currently, Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation is not an FDA-approved treatment.

How Does tDCS it Work?

The brain is comprised of an intricate work of billion of nerve cells called neurons, which communicate by using chemical and electrical impulses called synapses. During a Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation treatment session the low level of electrical current that passes into the brain increases how quickly neurons fire, which in turn increases the rate and amount of information that passes from one neuron to another.

This increase in neuronal activity can have a significant and positive effect on: mood regulation, fibromyalgia, pain relief, processing information, memory and among other conditions

What Should you Expect?

During a treatment session small electrodes are placed on specific locations on the head and the tDCS simulator sends a low intensity current through the brain. Typically a tingling sensation may be felt on the scalp for a short period of time during treatment.

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation treatment sessions typically last from 10 to 30 minutes each and are repeated daily or weekly during the course of treatment.

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation and Depression

Several clinical trials have been conducted to determine the efficacy of treating depression with Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation. Many have demonstrated that active Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation decreases symptoms of depression. More recently, the antidepressant Sertraline combined with Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation treatment was shown to lead to an additive response that was superior to treatment with Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation alone or placebo. This suggested that combining Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) with an antidepressant medication, or other treatment, may be a method of enhancing outcomes and that treating depression with Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) was efficacious.

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, Chronic Pain and Trigeminal

A recent study investigated the pain relief effects of 5 consecutive days of anodal Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation treatment using subjective (visual analog scale [VAS]) and objective (cortical excitability measured by transcranial magnetic stimulation [TMS]) measurements.) The result of the study confirmed that 5 daily sessions can produce long lasting pain relief in chronic pain sufferers.

tDCS and Intractable Chronic Pain

A retrospective analysis was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of treating patients who have chronic pain with Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation using anodal or cathodal placements over the course of multiple sessions. Clinically meaningful pain relief was defined as at least a 30% reduction in a pain score from 0 to 10. Results showed that 78% of patients who were treated with anodal Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation treatment reported >30% reduction and 60% of patients showed >50% reduction in pain. Patients who were treated with cathodal Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation treatment had >30% more pain relief in 64% of patients while >50% than or pain relief was reported by 53% of patients.