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Study Establishes Efficacy of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Treating Tinnitus

Emma Tiller | 21 Jul 2015

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Researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and the Veterans Affairs (VA) Portland Medical Center have devised a novel cure for tinnitus, a hearing impairment that involves sounds that are heard by an individual, even when there are no external sound sources present. The study was published in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery.

For the present study, the researchers conducted trials on 64 subjects who were diagnosed with tinnitus. The transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) involves a system that produces a magnetic field shaped like a cone, which can penetrate the scalp and skull of an individual in order to interact with tissues in the brain. Until date, the use of this system has only been allowed for treating depression, by the USFDA.

The participants chosen needed to have had symptoms of tinnitus for at least one full year. The trial comprised of administering one TMS pulse each second to the subjects. This was designed to target the brain’s auditory cortex. For the 10 days the trial lasted, each participant received 2,000 TMS pulses in each session.

The findings of the study proved the effectiveness of TMS for treating tinnitus. Out of the 32 individuals who were given an active TMS treatment, it was seen that in 18 individuals, the tinnitus symptoms were considerably lessened for six months. However, the researchers felt that a larger trial was needed to establish the suitability of TMS for clinical applications.

This pioneering research sure would have an estimated 45 million people, mostly veteran soldiers living in the US (who are usually diagnosed with having this condition), heave a sigh of relief.

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