The History of TMS

history of tms

Would you ever consider standing in a pool of water surrounded by electric eels if it promised pain relief? Believe it or not, the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs did just that. Many consider this spellbinding practice to be the first form of neuromodulation. It is where the farthest back roots of the idea behind TMS lie. Thankfully, due to the marvelous growth and development of modern technology, we no longer have to consider enduring this type of ritual. As enticing as it may sound! Neural stimulation like this has existed for thousands of years. However, for the sake of not taking up your entire day, let’s dive into the last few hundred years and the history of TMS. Aka, the real meat and potatoes.

The History of TMS

The first electric battery, called the voltaic pile, was invented in the eighteenth century. All because of an argument between two Italian men, Luigi Galvani and Alessandro Volta. It was the first device with the extraordinary ability to provide a steady flow of electricity. Volta, an Italian physicist, discovered that creating a circuit with two kinds of metals (he used zinc and copper) and a cloth dampened with brine (an electrolyte) would generate a current. He also found that he was able to increase and decrease the electricity produced. He was able to do so by changing the number of units. Being able to manipulate and control electricity production was revolutionary. His discovery exploded and many tried to replicate this magic on their own. Today, we technically have Volta to thank every time we start our cars to drive to work.

Gate Control Theory

As theories and experiments like the voltaic pile became more thoroughly explored, a theory stood out that magnetic waves could change thinking patterns. In 1965 came the arrival of the gate control theory. It was the idea that “nerve gates” are responsible for pain sensations reaching the brain depending on whether they are “open” or “closed”. This discovery then led to neuromodulation advancements. Specifically, deep brain stimulation for chronic pain, such as spinal injuries. Michael Faraday was able to prove that electric energy could be turned into magnetic fields. This then led Jacques-Arsene d’Arsonval to explore the positive response in the brain using these fields. And finally, in the mid-80s, Anthony Barker researched how it related to mental illness. Barker and his research are what officially marks the beginning of the history of treating depression with TMS.

Growth of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation

Since Anthony Barker’s discovery in 1985, TMS has not only grown in the US, but has also expanded into the UK, Canada, Germany, and Japan. In 2008, the FDA approved it for the treatment of depression. A huge win for TMS, the providers behind it, and the future patients about to experience it. It is pain-free and has the ability to penetrate 2-3 centimeters into the brain, making it a superior treatment. These 2-3 centimeters allow for the prefrontal cortex nerves to respond effectively.

Psychologists define depression as a lasting deep and profound sadness, sometimes referred to as dysphoria. The consequence of depression is that it neurologically affects how you produce and process serotonin in the brain. As a result, some link it to anxiety (a fear or uncertainty). Doctors believe that they work synergistically and that one can exacerbate the other. With the proof that TMS can regulate mood, it has the potential to decrease these symptoms and greatly increase one’s quality of life. TMS continues to grow and expand and we continue to write its history.

Past & Future of TMS

Educating ourselves on the vastness of history can almost always benefit us in the now. Understanding the root of where things begin can help us understand where we are presently and where we’re headed. Because of these practices, discoveries, and advancements, we are now able to draw conclusions regarding TMS. Ultimately we can now change the lives of individuals deeply struggling with mental illness. We can now say that there is significant proof that transcranial magnetic stimulation reduces symptoms associated with depressive and neuropathic pain. That it can accomplish this by stimulating the prefrontal cortex nerves using magnetic fields. By scientists and inventors piggybacking off each other throughout all these years, patients can continue to see a brighter future just around the corner.

TMS Institute of Great Plains Mental Health

Paula Whittle, PMHNP, and Dr. James Sorrell believe that mental health should be considered as a primary driver for one’s overall wellbeing, both physically and mentally. At TMS Institute of GPMH, we want to make sure your connection to the world you live in is addressed – to change the order to … SPIRIT, MIND, and BODY. As a result, we believe when people are treated in this order they feel better, more at peace, and much stronger to face life’s challenges. Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS therapy), the most advanced form of depression treatment, offers us the ability to enhance our patient outcomes following our philosophy of a holistic approach to treating mental health conditions.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation or to learn more about the history of TMS. 

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