May 11 – 13, 2018 marked the Clinical TMS Society Annual Meeting, where 550+ attendees from more than 30 countries came together in Brooklyn, New York to share expert insight and discuss what’s ahead for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or TMS.
The two-day conference showcased the practical and the potential of providing TMS as a clinical resource for patients struggling with Treatment Refractory Depression as well as considering clinical options for other disorders. Additionally, the meeting provided learning opportunities for TMS technicians, how to approach the patient when TMS does not work, MRI imaging and diagnosis, pain treatment, suicide prevention, research in areas of the world outside of the United States, starting a practice with TMS, and the role of TMS post-stroke.
Below are some conference highlights—from new data and clinical findings to keynote speakers, impactful presentations and educational breakout sessions.
During the opening breakfast, Greg Harper, VP of Product Development & Operations of NeuroStar and I co-presented the latest data from NeuroStar Advance Therapy Outcomes Registry, which now has more than 1,500 patients and is showing a 2/3-response rate and 1/3-remission rate for NeuroStar TMS.
Saxby Pridmore, M.D. led a presentation, TMS and the Fall of the Devil, where he discussed the early and ongoing use of TMS. Dr. Pridmore is a true pioneer with TMS, taking it to Tasmania and advancing the use of TMS with tremendous energy and creativity.
Joseph Zohar, Ph.D. discussed TMS with OCD during his presentation, Emerging Indications: OCD, which is one of the areas we believe TMS may have a role beyond depression. Additionally, there is a multi-center study completed which means we have to wait and see how the FDA will review the data.
Incoming Society president, Paul Croarkin, D.O., MSc moderated a panel, Clinical Standards Town Hall: Consensus Are Controversial, focused on clinical standards. This topic is critical as the industry and providers strive to understand better how to optimally treat patients to remission that is sustainable with the knowledge that neuromodulation, and, specifically TMS, is an evolving field and requires ongoing assessment. The standards from the Society are essential as we want the clinicians doing the treatment to create the clinical standard and not be required to follow treatment guidelines developed by insurance companies, or other entities, that are not based on research and clinical experience.
The Society Committees charged with advancing our industry include Clinical Standards, Insurance, Research, Membership, Newsletter, Outreach, Education, Legal and Ethics.
Amit Etkin, M.D., Ph.D. explained how the brain circuits are critical in optimal brain functioning and clarified that understanding the circuit process helps to understand the disease and promotes more optimal treatment in his presentation, A Circuits-First Approach to Mental Illness. Furthermore, work at Etkin Lab continues to impress the industry and supports this methodology.
The day progressed with more breakout sessions that addressed day-to-day practices of administering TMS, the complex issue of dealing with insurance companies and ways to optimize treatment with new ways of finding the treatment location, adjusting protocols and individualizing treatment. Other notable industry presentations centered on possible future uses including OCD, PTSD, smoking cessation, adolescent depression and bipolar depression.
Linda Carpenter, M.D., a significant force for advancing TMS, closed the conference with her presentation When to Stop TMS? Evidence-based Guidance for Scheduling, Stopping or Extending the Acute Course of TMS Sessions for Treatment-Resistant Major Depression, discussing end of treatment options, challenges and issues.
The conference was undoubtedly a success, offering providers like myself an abundance of information and excellent ideas. It is always fruitful to see and hear the many accomplished experts in the field. Collectively, we have learned so much and, yet still have so much to learn.
After a couple of days in The Big Apple immersed in all things TMS, I returned to my Nashville-based practice and the clinical world where we do not just talk about patients getting better, but we see it happen.