Is Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) Ready for Clinical Use as a Treatment Tool for Mental Health Targets in Children and Youth?

SOURCE: Journal of the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 31(2)
(pp 93-99), 2022.


AUTHORS: Jivraj J.; Ameis S.H.

ABSTRACT: Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation tool with potential for broad application in individuals with neuropsychiatric conditions. As in adults, most rTMS research in youth has focused on treatment-resistant depression. A limited number of rTMS studies have also been conducted in children and youth with primary  diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Tourette’s syndrome. Across the available rTMS literature, rTMS appears to be well tolerated with few adverse effects reported when applied to child and youth research samples. However, the potential efficacy of rTMS treatment for a variety of targets in children and youth remains unclear, due in part to limitations of the current literature, including studies using diverse protocols, potential for bias in existing clinical trial designs,
variability in the research samples, and the use of heterogenous outcome measures. While rTMS is unlikely to take the place of more accessible treatments (e.g., psychopharmacological, psychosocial, psychotherapeutic), rTMS may provide a valuable alternative treatment option, particularly for those individuals where conventional treatments are inaccessible, poorly tolerated, or ineffective. A more robust body of well-designed, controlled trials, is needed in order to clarify rTMS treatment efficacy across relevant neuropsychiatric conditions, optimize treatment protocols, and meet the critical need for novel mental health interventions in children and youth.