Remotely Supervised Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation: An Update on Safety and Tolerability

J Vis Exp. 2017 Oct 7;(128):56211. doi: 10.3791/56211.


The remotely supervised tDCS (RS-tDCS) protocol enables participation from home through guided and monitored self-administration of tDCS treatment while maintaining clinical standards. The current consensus regarding the efficacy of tDCS is that multiple treatment sessions are needed to observe targeted behavioral reductions in symptom burden. However, the requirement for patients to travel to clinic daily for stimulation sessions presents a major obstacle for potential participants, due to work or family obligations or limited ability to travel. This study presents a protocol that directly overcomes these obstacles by eliminating the need to travel to clinic for daily sessions. This is an updated protocol for remotely supervised self-administration of tDCS for daily treatment sessions paired with a program of computer-based cognitive training for use in clinical trials. Participants only need to attend clinic twice, for a baseline and study-end visit. At baseline, participants are trained and provided with a study stimulation device, and a small laptop computer. Participants then complete the remainder of their stimulation sessions at home while they are monitored via videoconferencing software. Participants complete computerized cognitive remediation during stimulation sessions, which may serve a therapeutic role or as a "placeholder" for other computer-based activity. Computers are enabled for real-time monitoring and remote control by study staff. Outcome measures that assess feasibility and tolerance are administered remotely with the aid of visual analogue scales that are presented onscreen. Following completion of all RS-tDCS sessions, participants return to clinic for a study end visit in which all study equipment is returned. Results support the safety, feasibility, and scalability of the RS-tDCS protocol for use in clinical trials. Across 46 patients, 748 RS-tDCS sessions have been completed. This protocol serves as a model for use in future clinical trials involving tDCS.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation / methods*
  • Young Adult