Transcranial direct current stimulation reduces fatigue linked to MS

October 13, 2017
People with multiple sclerosis who underwent a noninvasive form of electrical brain stimulation experienced significant reductions in fatigue, according to new research from the Multiple Sclerosis Comprehensive Care Center at NYU Langone Health.
 
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.
 
Because fatigue is a common complaint with MS, and with no effective treatments to address it, the researchers said the findings may point to a future role for this technology in treating fatigue. However, they point out 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 researchers said results from the study suggest that tDCS might offer benefit in fatigue reduction. The next step is to see if these benefits can be replicated and sustained in larger studies.
 
The findings were published online in the Multiple Sclerosis Journal.

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