Depression treatment tool holds tremendous promise for patients with debilitating condition
In the largest U.S. clinical trial of its kind funded by the Veterans Affairs (VA) Rehabilitation Research and Development Service, researchers at the VA Portland Medical Center and Oregon Health & Science University found that transcranial magnetic stimulation significantly improved tinnitus symptoms for more than half of study participants. Their findings were published today in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery.
“For some study participants, this was the first time in years that they experienced any relief in symptoms. These promising results bring us closer to developing a long-sought treatment for this condition that affects an enormous number of Americans, including many men and women who have served in our armed forces,” said Robert L. Folmer, Ph.D., research investigator with the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research at the VA Portland Health Care System and associate professor of Otolarynology/Head and Neck Surgery in the OHSU School of Medicine.
One of the most common health conditions in the country, tinnitus affects nearly 45 million Americans. People with this audiological and neurological condition hear a persistent sound – that can range from ringing or buzzing to a hissing or white noise hum – when there is no external sound source. The distraction can impair people’s ability to sleep or concentrate and is sometimes disabling.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 15 percent of Americans experience some degree of tinnitus. Currently, there are no proven treatments available. So, patients with the condition often develop coping strategies to manage their reaction to tinnitus.
Military veterans are at greater risk of developing the condition. Tinnitus is the most prevalent service connected disability in the VA health system. Study participants were a mix of veterans and non-veterans.