TICS: Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation for Intervening in Children with Tourette's Syndrome

Funding Details
Canadian Institutes of Health Research
  • Grant type: Project Grant
  • Years: 2018/19 to 2020/21
  • Total Funding: $435,377
Keywords
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Project Summary

Tourette syndrome (TS) is common. TS affects over 80,000 Canadian youth. Tics are the core symptom of TS. These are repetitive, sudden, semi-voluntary movements or sounds. In some children, these tics can be especially bad and require treatment. However, options are limited. Medications for TS carry significant risk of side effects. Behavioral treatments, like habit reversal therapy, show promise and are safe. However, they are difficult to apply to young children. It is only with time and practice that youth with TS are better able to suppress their tics. Finally, neither current treatment approaches target the root cause of the tics in the brain. For these reasons, new interventions are needed. We will target a key brain region involved in tics. It is called the supplementary motor area. Using low frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation, we will inhibit the activity of that brain region. This is similar to the tic suppression that develops with age. Brain stimulation can also induce brain plasticity. We think by combining brain stimulation with habit reversal therapy, we can not only provide short-term relief, but also help retrain the brain to be better at suppressing tics at an earlier age than usually expected. (1) We think that the severity of tics will decrease with treatment. (2) We think the tic reduction will be greater in the combined treatment group. (3) We further think that we will see changes in brain function and chemistry in the target area, the supplementary motor cortex. (4) Again, we think the changes will be greater in the combined treatment group. Our team has pioneered brain stimulation in children and adolescents. By developing a way to treat TS, we can reduce the severity of tics and improve their quality of life.