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Study: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) can reduce fatigue in patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

 

Leigh Charvet, PhD and a member of her research team use the transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) equipment. Credit: NYU Langone Health

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Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation Shown to Reduce Fatigue Associated with Multiple Sclerosis (NYU Lagone Health press release):

“People with multiple sclerosis (MS) who underwent a non-invasive form of electrical brain stimulation experienced significant reductions in fatigue, a common and often debilitating symptom of the disease…When compared to patients who were enrolled in a placebo arm of the study, those that received the stimulation —called transcranial direct current stimulation, or tDCS —were found to have about a six-point drop on a 32-point scale measuring fatigue severity, according to the findings recently published online in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal.

Because fatigue is a common complaint with MS, and with no effective treatments to address it, the researchers, encouraged by their findings, note that they may point to a future role for this technology in treating this particular symptom. However, they also caution the need to validate the findings in larger studies —and strongly caution individuals with MS not to try over-the-counter stimulation technologies at home or outside of a rigorous research setting…

The exact mechanism behind tDCS is unclear and requires more research. It is thought to change the brain’s cortical excitability by making it easier for neurons to fire, thereby improving connections and expediting learning that takes place during rehabilitation.”

The Study

Remotely supervised transcranial direct current stimulation for the treatment of fatigue in multiple sclerosis: Results from a randomized, sham-controlled trial (Multiple Sclerosis Journal). From the abstract:

  • Objective: To evaluate whether tDCS can reduce fatigue in individuals with MS.
  • Methods: Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex left anodal tDCS was administered using a RS-tDCS protocol, paired with 20?minutes of cognitive training. Here, two studies are considered. Study 1 delivered 10 open-label tDCS treatments compared to a cognitive training only condition. Study 2 was a randomized trial of active or sham delivered for 20 sessions. Fatigue was assessed using the Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS)—Fatigue Short Form.
  • Conclusion:  tDCS is a potential treatment for MS-related fatigue.

The Study in Context

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