October 12, 2005

rTMS for Schizophrenia shows progress

A new presentation reports that repetative transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)which allows for "direct activation of neurons, will play an ever-expanding role in depression and schizophrenia treatment, according to recent reports from Mark S. George, M.D., and Alan L. Schneider, M.D. George, who is distinguished professor of psychiatry, radiology and neurology, and director of the Brain Stimulation Laboratory at the Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine" reported "Psychiatric Times"

As we've reported in the past, few studies have evaluated rTMS use for the treatment of schizophrenia. Dr. Schneider stated to Psychiatric Times that he and colleagues are getting close to completion on two double-blind studies investigating adjunctive use of rTMS for the treatment of such negative symptoms as restricted affect, diminished social drive and lack of volition in patients with schizophrenia. In their studies, All patients continue to receive their atypical antipsychotics during treatment.

Results from Current Trials of rTMS:

Currently, George said, large multisite trials are underway or nearing completion. These studies will be a substantial improvement of the literature, George said, because most of the published studies were conducted at single centers with small sample sizes.

In Canada, several rTMS devices have been licensed by Health Canada. George described one study in a Canadian practice setting (Ledsome et al., 2005).

Asked about patients' responses to treatment, Schneider told Psychiatric Times, "Their persistence is very interesting. These are schizophrenic patients who [by definition] are often poorly motivated. Yet our dropout rate is one on NARSAD and one on Stanley to date. It is very unusual in and of itself to get people to come in five days per week. Granted, most of these people are being transported. Nevertheless to get them up and moving at 8 a.m. is a feat."

The patients, Schneider said, report that with the treatment they subjectively feel clearer and that they can think better. He relayed an anecdote in which one patient who was quite negative at the start of the study came in later and told the staff about going to a family wedding and dancing. Another patient who according to Schneider was "one of the most slovenly people" he had ever seen, came in one day clean shaven and relatively well dressed for him. Two patients who were previously unemployed are now employed, and another is applying for work.

See the full story at: Updates Show Progress in TMS for Depression and Schizophrenia


I am a graduate student at Columbia University and would like to write a story about a patient with schizophrenia who is recieving rTMS as a complementary treatment to reduce hallucinations and delusions. I would like to write a profile detailing this experience and submit it as a Master's project in March. I am a science writer with a strong neuroscience and clinical backgound and am eager to find out how I can gain access to scientists and patients who are involved in rTMS.

Posted by: Thania Benios at October 14, 2005 11:30 AM

In 1985 four years after developing the symptoms of schizophrenia, I had a full MRI brain scan. I believe this may have reduced the severity of my hallucinations, and delusions. The MRI caused me to accept these symptoms as not part of my reality. The only problem was that it became more difficult for other people to tell if I was having hallucinations, and delusions. This made it more difficult to get early intervention, and treatment. The schizophrenia began to look like Bipolar I illness.

Posted by: Ken at November 1, 2005 08:18 AM

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