TMS Treatment For Parkinson’s In 2019
In this video, we introduce Robert D. McMullen, MD who is a psychiatrist in NYC who has been performing psychopharmacology for over 30 years, the last 10 of which includes transcranial magnetic stimulation(TMS). Today, he will discuss TMS as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease.
TMS has been used as a treatment for Parkinson’s disease for only 10 years, however, there have already been some breakthroughs. One case that Dr. McMullen highlights is a religious lady who came to him because she had developed severe Parkinson’s. She had many of the common symptoms associated with Parkinson’s including slurred speech, shaky hands, and she also required assistance to walk. She had come to Dr. McMullen because she could not go any higher on the Parkinson’s medication dosage without feeling sick. She had also developed depression due to not being able to spend time with her family during Passover due to her illness. After only 5 to 6 TMS treatments, her condition began to improve dramatically so much so that she had begun to walk and talk normally again.
All in all, she had undergone a total of 20 treatments and her Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale(UPDRS) had gone down from a score of 70 at the beginning of treatment to a score of 30.
Another case that Dr. McMullen mentions is of an older man who also came to him for Parkinson’s treatment. His UPDRS score was 34 at the beginning of treatment. After only 11 treatments, his score had gone down to a 16. Afterward, his condition had significantly improved and he had even begun driving once more. In addition, his stiffness had gone down dramatically.
Lastly, an older woman who had Lewy Body Dementia, which is a disorder similar to Parkinson’s, had come to Dr. McMullen for treatment. She has also developed severe depression due to her condition. After 61 TMS treatments, her UPDRS score had gone down from 50 to 30. In addition, her depression scale had gone down 72% in the process. What was most remarkable about her case is that on the many mental status exam that was performed on her to measure her brain’s cognition, her score was an 11 at the beginning and had remained an 11 after a year of treatment.
This demonstrated that the TMS treatments had prevented any further decline in her brain’s cognition, which is a common occurrence for those with Lewy Body Dementia. This may be due to the fact that the TMS treatment had raised her BDNF, which is considered the growth hormone of the brain that when low, can cause depression. She was also put on a low dose of lithium, which reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s.
Regarding lithium, there is evidence that you can use it to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. In one case, there were a few counties in Texas where the rate of Alzheimer’s was lower than average when comparing to all of the surrounding counties. It was then discovered that these counties had higher doses of lithium in their water than other counties. Further studies performed on animals showed that lithium does indeed reduce cognitive decline.
Another study highlighting the use of lithium to prevent cognitive decline was found in the British Journal of Psychiatry. During the study, researchers had taken numerous people with Mild Cognitive Impairment(MCI) and had put half of them on low dosages of lithium. It was then discovered that those on lithium were less likely to convert into Alzheimer’s patients, which is the next phase for those with MCI. This is due to the fact that lithium is very neuroprotective. This means that even on a low dose, if one were to get in a car accident and damage their brain, at least 50% more of it would survive compared to those who were not on lithium.
As far as how many TMS treatments you need to treat Parkinson’s, the number varies greatly. The Brainsway company suggests 18 treatments performed 3 times a week for a total of 6 weeks. This number changes depending on how responsive the patient is to the treatment and the severity of their condition. TMS treatment targets the motor strip area of the brain with an excitatory treatment. This is in order to reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s and any other illness associated with cognitive decline. It is also generally painless and very quick with the use of Theta Burst Stimulation. In addition, there are no major side effects that come with the treatment. This means patients can carry on normally with their day right after visiting the psychiatrist. Patients can also undergo multiple treatments in a day for faster results.
Although there have been a limited amount of case studies for TMS treatment for Parkinson’s, Dr. McMullen has shown that there is hope for those afflicted with that terrible illness with the help of TMS. And as time goes on, there will be many more people with Parkinson’s who will be able to live normal lives with the help of TMS.
To learn more:
Psychiatrist Robert D. McMullen – NYC – Depression Specialist – TMS BrainCare
Location 1: 171 W 79th St #2, New York, NY 10024
Location 2: 344 Main St, Mt Kisco, NY 10549