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Accelerated Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or accelerated TMS is an innovative treatment in the fields of neuroscience and psychiatry that aims to optimize the therapeutic benefits of traditional TMS. Unlike traditional TMS treatments that can take weeks or even months to produce noticeable results, Accelerated TMS treatment is designed to provide rapid symptom relief in a much shorter time.

What is accelerated TMS?

Accelerated TMS, or accelerated Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation represents an exciting advancement in the field of brain stimulation for mental health. By delivering magnetic pulses at a higher frequency and in shorter durations, accelerated TMS seeks to enhance the therapeutic benefits of traditional TMS, potentially leading to improved outcomes and reduced treatment duration.

Psychotherapist working with man in office

How does accelerate TMS differs from traditional TMS treatment?

Both accelerated and traditional Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) involves the application of magnetic fields to specific regions in the brain to modulate neuronal activity. 

In traditional TMS, magnetic pulses are typically administered at a frequency of 1 Hertz. However, accelerated TMS departs from this standard by delivering pulses at a higher frequency, typically ranging from 5 to 20 Hz. As a result of the high frequency used during accelerated TMS treatment, shorter sessions are needed.

Both traditional and accelerated TMS rely on coils to deliver magnetic stimulation. There are many types of coils, each with its indications. During accelerated TMS therapy, the magnetic stimulation is usually delivered via an H1 coil, which can target deeper and wider brain structures.

How does accelerated TMS work?

The underlying mechanism of accelerated TMS is similar to traditional TMS. When the magnetic fields generated by the TMS device reach the targeted brain regions, they induce electrical currents that can influence neuronal activity. This modulation of brain circuits may lead to changes in neurotransmitter release, synaptic plasticity, and functional connectivity, all of which play a role in psychiatric and neurological conditions.

The current advances in neuroscience allow us to link mental health disorders to specific regions in the brain, and thus by delivering direct magnetic stimulation to these specific brain structures, we can improve the symptoms of the conditions they are associated with.

What to expect during an accelerated TMS session?

Initial Assessment

Before beginning the treatment, you will typically undergo an initial assessment with a healthcare professional. They will review your medical history, evaluate your specific condition, and determine if accelerated TMS is a suitable treatment option for you.

Initial measurements

Before you start your accelerated TMS treatment protocol, you will undergo some measurements to identify your motor threshold, as well as where exactly to place the coil to target the specific brain area meant to be stimulated.

You only have to undergo these measurements once at the beginning of your treatment. But throughout the accelerated TMS therapy, your healthcare professional will monitor your progress and make any necessary adjustments to the treatment parameters to ensure optimal effectiveness.

Treatment Setup

You will be comfortably seated in a specialized chair or recliner. The healthcare professional will position a magnetic coil over the targeted area of your scalp, which corresponds to the specific brain region being treated.

When the treatment begins, you may experience sensations and hear clicking sounds generated by the TMS machine. While these sensations may take some getting used to, they are generally well-tolerated.

Treatment Duration

Accelerated TMS sessions are typically shorter than traditional TMS sessions due to the higher frequency of pulses. Each session usually lasts between 10 and 20 minutes, although the exact duration and number of sessions needed will vary depending on the treatment protocol and individual needs. Accelerated TMS treatment courses may range from a few days to several weeks.

After the session

One of the main benefits of accelerated TMS therapy is its minimal downtime, which allows the patient to resume their daily activities right after the accelerated TMS treatment ends. The most commonly reported side effects of accelerated TMS therapy are mild and transient. These can include scalp discomfort, headaches, muscle twitches, or tingling sensations, which tend to diminish over time and are generally well-tolerated.

What are the success rates of accelerated TMS?

Accelerated TMS has garnered interest as a potential treatment for various disorders. Research studies have explored its effectiveness in depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), addiction disorder, chronic pain as well as many other neurological conditions.

While traditional TMS has already demonstrated efficacy in some of these conditions, accelerated TMS aims to enhance treatment outcomes and potentially reduce the number of treatment sessions required.

Accelerated TMS for depression

Studies investigating the efficacy of accelerated TMS have reported comparable or superior antidepressant effects when compared to traditional TMS protocols. Accelerated TMS treatment for depression is safe and effective and has been cleared by the FDA.

Accelerated TMS for OCD

Accelerated TMS therapy has shown promise as a potential treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Research studies exploring the use of accelerated TMS for OCD have reported positive outcomes. Current research findings suggest that accelerated TMS may offer a beneficial alternative or adjunct to existing treatments for OCD.

Accelerated TMS for PTSD

The higher frequency and shorter duration of magnetic pulses in accelerated TMS protocols aim to modulate brain activity and potentially alleviate symptoms associated with PTSD. By targeting specific brain regions involved in the regulation of emotions and stress responses, accelerated TMS holds the potential for reducing the distressing symptoms of PTSD

Accelerated TMS for Anxiety

Preliminary research suggests that accelerated TMS may have a positive impact on reducing anxiety symptoms by modulating neural activity in relevant brain regions. Just like in PTSD, accelerated TMS therapy can target brain areas responsible for stress response and emotional regulation, which can help alleviate anxiety symptoms.

Accelerated TMS for addiction disorders:

Accelerated TMS therapy has shown promise as a potential treatment for addiction. While research in this area is still evolving, early findings suggest that accelerated TMS may have beneficial effects in reducing cravings and improving outcomes in individuals struggling with addiction.

By targeting specific brain regions involved in reward processing and craving regulation, accelerated TMS aims to modulate neural activity and potentially disrupt addictive patterns.

Accelerated TMS for neurological disorders: 

Accelerated TMS therapy has been explored as a potential treatment for various neurological disorders. Research studies have investigated its efficacy in conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke rehabilitation, multiple sclerosis, and neuropathic pain.

Accelerated TMS aims to modulate neural activity in affected brain regions and promote neuroplasticity, potentially leading to improved motor function, cognitive abilities, and pain management.

What are the benefits of accelerated TMS?

As you may have understood so far, accelerated TMS therapy is a promising, non-invasive, and efficient treatment protocol that offers a variety of benefits with little to no disadvantages. To sum things up, here are some of the most important benefits of accelerated TMS therapy:

Enhanced Treatment Efficacy: Accelerated TMS aims to optimize the therapeutic effects of traditional TMS, potentially leading to improved treatment outcomes for psychiatric and neurological disorders.

Shortened Treatment Duration: The higher frequency and shorter duration of magnetic pulses in accelerated TMS protocols may allow for shorter treatment sessions compared to traditional TMS, reducing the overall treatment duration.

Improved Quality of Life: By alleviating symptoms, accelerated TMS has the potential to improve the overall quality of life for individuals affected by various psychiatric and neurological disorders.

Minimal Downtime: Following each session, you can generally resume your daily activities without significant downtime. Accelerated TMS is a non-invasive procedure, and there is usually no need for recovery time or restrictions on your normal routine.

Personalized Treatment Approach: Accelerated TMS can be tailored to individual needs, allowing for personalized treatment protocols that target specific brain regions associated with the condition being treated. It can also be used adjunct or alternative to medications, providing an option for individuals who may not tolerate or respond well to drugs.