Tinnitus affects up to 53% of people who suffer a traumatic brain injury. Tinnitus can profoundly affect quality of life, but unfortunately there are few effective treatments for it. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) has typically been contraindicated for people who have had a traumatic brain injury because of the possibility that it may it increase the risk of seizures. However, a recent case study showed that rTMS can be a safe and effective treatment for some cases of tinnitus after a traumatic brain injury.
The case study highlighted a man in his fifties who had been suffering from tinnitus after a severe traumatic brain injury several years prior. He was suffering from depression and sleep disorders as a result of the tinnitus, and no other treatment had been effective. His doctors administered rTMS, after placing him on an anti-seizure medication as a precaution. After receiving ten sessions of rTMS over the primary auditory cortex on the same side of his injury, he reported a significant reduction in the tinnitus.
The improvement to the patient's tinnitus initially lasted three months, after which he was given a repeat of the ten treatment sessions. This cycle was repeated until, over time, his post-treatment improvements began to last up to six months and the rTMS could be administered less often. No seizure activity was noted. Although the very long-term effects of rTMS on post-traumatic tinnitus are still unknown, this case study showed that rTMS has the potential to be a safe and beneficial treatment for some patients.
Kreuzer PM, Landgrebe M, Frank E, & Langguth B. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation for the treatment of chronic tinnitus after traumatic brain injury. A case study. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation. (October 2013).