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Brain Res Bull. 2007 May 30;72(4-6):208-14. Epub 2007 Jan 24.

Safety aspects of transcranial direct current stimulation concerning healthy subjects and patients.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Neurophysiology, Georg-August University, Robert Koch Strasse 40, 37075 G├Âttingen, Germany. csaba.poreisz@med.ni-goettingen.de

Abstract

Cortical excitability changes induced by tDCS and revealed by TMS, are increasingly being used as an index of neuronal plasticity in the human cortex. The aim of this paper is to summarize the partially adverse effects of 567 tDCS sessions over motor and non-motor cortical areas (occipital, temporal, parietal) from the last 2 years, on work performed in our laboratories. One-hundred and two of our subjects who participated in our tDCS studies completed a questionnaire. The questionnaire contained rating scales regarding the presence and severity of headache, difficulties in concentrating, acute mood changes, visual perceptual changes and any discomforting sensation like pain, tingling, itching or burning under the electrodes, during and after tDCS. Participants were healthy subjects (75.5%), migraine patients (8.8%), post-stroke patients (5.9%) and tinnitus patients (9.8%). During tDCS a mild tingling sensation was the most common reported adverse effect (70.6%), moderate fatigue was felt by 35.3% of the subjects, whereas a light itching sensation under the stimulation electrodes occurred in 30.4% of cases. After tDCS headache (11.8%), nausea (2.9%) and insomnia (0.98%) were reported, but fairly infrequently. In addition, the incidence of the itching sensation (p=0.02) and the intensity of tingling sensation (p=0.02) were significantly higher during tDCS in the group of the healthy subjects, in comparison to patients; whereas the occurrence of headache was significantly higher in the patient group (p=0.03) after the stimulation. Our results suggest that tDCS applied to motor and non-motor areas according to the present tDCS safety guidelines, is associated with relatively minor adverse effects in healthy humans and patients with varying neurological disorders.

PMID:
17452283
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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