Results of a clinical trial at the Hadassah University Medical Center indicate that Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) can be an effective treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when combined with exposure to trauma memory cues.
TMS is a noninvasive procedure that uses magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells in the brain. "This study," relates Principal Investigator Dr. Moshe Isseries of Hadassah's Department of Psychiatry, "was the first of its kind designed to test the effectiveness of TMS on people with severe or resistant PTSD." Only a few studies, he says, "have been conducted using magnetic stimulation and none using the combination of magnetic stimulation and exposure to trauma memory."
The trial involved an innovative device, developed by the Israeli company, Brainsway Ltd, which stimulates extensive areas deeper in the cortex. The 26 patients in the trial were divided into three groups: One group was treated using the Deep TMS device together with a brief exposure to trauma cues (reminders of a traumatic event conveyed to the patient through earphones); a second group received Deep TMS treatment with no trauma cues; and a third group received sham stimulation with exposure to trauma cues. All the patients in the study participated in at least 8 sessions, the minimum required for treatment.
Only the group that received active Deep TMS with exposure to cues showed a statistically significant improvement. "There was a marked decrease in nightmares and flashbacks and improvement in sleeping, mood, and functioning," Dr. Isseries reports. Follow-up questionnaires yielded similar findings. The improvement remained constant.