Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in the Elderly

Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2018 Feb 10;20(1):6. doi: 10.1007/s11920-018-0866-2.


Purpose of review: This article aims to review select applications of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) that have significant relevance in geriatric psychiatry.

Recent findings: Small study sizes and parameter variability limit the generalizability of many TMS studies in geriatric patients. Additionally, geriatric patients have unique characteristics that can moderate the efficacy of TMS. Nonetheless, several promising experimental applications in addition to the FDA-approved indication for major depression have emerged. Cognitive impairment, neuropathic pain, and smoking cessation are experimental applications with special significance to the elderly. Cognitive impairment has been researched the most in this population and evidence thus far suggests that TMS has potential therapeutic benefit. There is also evidence to suggest benefit from TMS for neuropathic pain and smoking cessation in working age adults. TMS is consistently reported as a safe and well-tolerated treatment modality with no adverse cognitive side effects. TMS is a safe treatment modality that can be effective for certain applications in the elderly. Additional research that specifically includes older subjects is needed to replicate findings and to optimize treatment protocols for this population.

Keywords: Cognitive; Depression; Efficacy; Geriatric; Pain; Safety; Smoking cessation; Transcranial magnetic stimulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Chronic Pain / therapy*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / therapy*
  • Health Services for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Smoking Cessation / methods*
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation / methods*