Transcranial direct-current stimulation (TDCS/ tDCS) uses small electrodes to pass low level electrical currents through the scalp in order to stimulate nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. Scientists claim the therapy can help users improve cognition.
TDCS was originally developed for rehabilitation of patients with certain brain juries, such as those suffered during a stroke. However, tests showed that healthy subjects who were given TDCS showed marked increases in cognitive performance.
Most brain injury compensation claims are made following accidents involving head trauma, but now, as companies start selling TDCS kits for use at home – often marketed at keen gamers - there are concerns that brain injury solicitors could start seeing claims made for TDCS-related brain injuries.
To find out about making a claim for brain injury compensation and the services that Seth Lovis & Co's personal injury solicitors provide, please click here.
Home TDCS kits for gamers
In August 2014, the BBC reported on the commercial uses of TDCS technology and the rising trend amongst gamers for the use of TDCS headsets at home.
Companies supplying the home-use kits made claims such as "You really can improve your brain function quickly through using tDCS" and "Can you ‘change your mind' by increasing energy in certain areas and reducing excess activity in others? Can you learn 20-40% quicker, reduce pain, feel better, increase energy or reduce stress with tDCS? Research studies say, YES!"
However, perhaps remembering that they were supplying equipment to enable users to put electrical currents through their brains, the companies were quick to absolve themselves from liability should something go wrong - "We offer NO Medical Advice! D-I-Y means - It is your responsibility and liability", said one supplier on their website.
Not enough research into side-effects
Scientists believed the studies on long-term effects of TDCS were not, at that time, fully conclusive and that if the therapy is administered incorrectly it could have harmful effects.
Some researchers asked for "calm and caution" regarding use of TDCS in a non-medical scenario, saying that the risks of seizures and mood changes were well-known. Plus, the effects of TDCS in under 20s was not, at the time, fully researched and as this is one of the significant age-groups within the gaming community, the promotion of the at-home DIY kits was worrying.
Researchers from the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University have called for the regulation of devices sold within the commercial sector. Dr Maslen, from the university, said that at the time, because the kits were marketed without any specific claims of treatment, the suppliers avoided the regulations required of units for medical use.
Steven Novella, a neurologist from Yale University raised concerns over the amount of research which has been carried out. He believed the marketing claims of the efficacy of TDCS was "a couple of steps ahead of the science".
He said, "Any device with medical claims that it's meant to affect our biological function should be appropriately regulated. Regulation is the only thing that creates the motivation to spend the money and take the time to do the proper research."
Have you or a family member been affected by brain injury?"
If you have been the victim of medical malpractice, or negligence, which has caused you to suffer a brain injury, you may be entitled to brain injury compensation which could help you in your recovery, rehabilitation and with the financial demands of day-to-day life.
At Seth Lovis & Co we understand the complex nature of brain injuries and the effect they can have on entire families. We work tirelessly with our clients to ensure brain injury patients receive the compensation they deserve and strive to ensure they receive the best care and support possible.
To talk to a solicitor today about making a brain injury claim with Seth Lovis & Co, please call 0808 252 0678