What is tDCS?
Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation, or simply tDCS, is a non-invasive neurostimulation technology, used to modulate neuronal activity and increase synaptic plasticity by applying a low-intensity current to the scalp through two or more electrodes.
The method can affect the activation of neuronal networks but is not strong enough to initiate non-existing neuronal activity.
The technology in itself is nothing new. What is new is that we make this technology available in a simple format, both for clinicians and their clients, to get the full benefits of tDCS.
What can tDCS be used for?
Although the modern idea of tDCS is relatively new (around 20 years old), the concept of utilising subthreshold stimulation to modify brain activity dates back millenia. In the ancient world the greek and romans used proto-tDCS techniques as antidepressants and as an analgesic (Largus, 1887). Interestingly, both of these applications are seeing a lot of research today.
Overall applications of tDCS can be split into cognitive enhancements observed in healthy individuals, and clinical benefits observed in a number of clinical groups.
The specific impact of tDCS is determined by various factors, with the primary factor being the positioning of electrodes, which dictates the regions of the brain that the current flows over. Depending on the application, different montages may be necessary.
SUGGESTED CLINICAL APPLICATIONS
While tDCS is generally considered a safe form of brain stimulation, there are a few important safety measures that must be taken into account to ensure that devices like the PlatoWork tDCS headset can only deliver the desired current and voltage. These safety measures include:
1) The electronics in the control unit are designed with a physical maximum load just above the amount needed for stimulation. Additionally, current and voltage limitation circuitry is needed in case of failure.
2) During use, the headset’s charging port is obstructed, making it impossible to connect the device to any other power source during stimulation.
3) The firmware and software controlling the hardware include several safety measures that immediately stop stimulation if the continuously measured voltage and current deviate from normal operating limits. This ensures that the headset cannot deliver more electricity than the amount proven to be safe for human subjects.
As a result, the PlatoWork tDCS headset is registered as a Class I medical device under the EU Medical Device Directive, 93/42/EEC, and ensuring a high quality and safe product for our users is our top priority.
Potential side effects
Numerous studies have confirmed that tDCS has a high safety profile. Most people experience only minor side effects, such as a tingling sensation underneath the electrodes and temporary reddening of the skin after the electrodes are removed. This reddening is caused by increased blood flow to the area, and it usually disappears within 15 - 30 minutes after stimulation.
Although more severe side effects can occur, they are very rare. For example, some people may experience first degree burns or tension headaches, and a few cases of second degree burns have been reported in the last 20 years.
It’s important to note that all reported side effects have been temporary, and no permanent side effects have ever been reported. This is why tDCS is such a great technology for home use; it can effectively change brain activity with fewer side effects compared to other techniques that are similarly powerful.
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