Effective for treating severe depression, trigeminal nerve stimulation is also proven in children with Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Explanations.
In France, around 400,000 children aged 4 to 18 years are thought to have Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This disorder is often mistakenly attributed to unruly children. The combination of three signs characterizes ADHD: attention deficit, motor hyperactivity and impulsivity. Today, there is no cure for this disorder. But it is possible to reduce the symptoms. According to a US study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, stimulation of the trigeminal nerve (TNS) has proven particularly effective and safe for children.
A device to wear during sleep
The trigeminal nerve is the longest of the cranial nerves. It is double-a left and a right-and each trigeminal nerve is composed of three branches: the ophthalmic nerve, the maxillary nerve and the mandibular nerve. In Canada and Europe, trigeminal nerve stimulation is used to treat severe depression.
62 children with ADHD aged 8 to 12 years participated in this study. Every night and for four weeks, each child slept with a device, a small stimulator worn on the pajamas that emits a low-intensity electric current. Wires are connected between the device and a patch of adhesive electrodes worn on the front. The child does not feel or hardly this stimulation, which activates brain areas associated with concentration and control of impulses.
As effective as some drugs
Some of the children slept with the device, but there was no brain stimulation. In those who actually benefited from trigeminal nerve stimulation, the researchers observed an improvement in the first week of treatment, with increasing progress over the next three weeks. This improvement was similar to that seen with some nonstimulant drugs for ADHD.
In addition, the researchers found that stimulating the trigeminal nerve did not only reduce the behavioral symptoms of ADHD. Indeed, the TNS allowed to increase the activity in the cerebral circuits, measured by electroencephalogram. This suggests that stimulation of the trigeminal nerve effects changes in the neurological function itself.
"I am delighted that we have seen a significant reduction in ADHD symptoms, as well as improvements in brain function following TNS treatment," said Dr. McGough, lead author of the study. "The treatment was well accepted by patients and their families ... and there were no clinically important side effects." Trigeminal nerve stimulation has great potential as an additional option for managing ADHD. "