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MeRT Therapy for Autism
If you are a parent of a child with a condition on the autism spectrum, then you may be looking at what the best treatments are on offer to help support your child.
In particular, you might have thought about therapies that can help them during this period of growth to improve communication and speech therapy and give them the tools and support they need before reaching adulthood.
Can a new cutting-edge treatment called MeRT therapy help support those with autism, particularly children? Here are the facts on MeRT therapy and whether they are a good option for you or your family member’s treatment of autism.
What Is MeRT Therapy?
MeRT is short for Magnetic e-Resonance Therapy. It is a drug-free and non-invasive treatment option for autism.
MeRT is a combination of three different treatment phases: rTMS (Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), EEG (an Electroencephalogram), and ECG (an Electrocardiogram).
The first part of MeRT treatment is the rTMS. rTMS is a non-invasive depression therapy using magnetic stimulation on the brain. The therapy focuses on stimulating the areas of the brain that control our mood.
The second part of MeRT treatment is an EEG. An EEG is a test that monitors brain activity.
Finally, the patient undergoes an ECG test. This test measures electrical activity in the heart and establishes the patient’s heart rhythm.
An EEG and ECG are used as part of MeRT therapy so that the magnetic stimulation treatment can be measured and customized based on the readings taken from the EEG and ECG tests.
This approach allows the physician to personalize the treatment to each individual’s brain patterns.
How MeRT Works
The brain is the most complex area of a human being. Containing billions of neurons communicating via pathways, scientists and medical experts are still discovering how these electrical signals work together for the brain to function.
What is known is that some brain traumas and some mental health conditions can change brain activity.
This disruption can lead to varying degrees of problems in a patient, such as addiction, depression, and more complex and broader issues such as autism.
MeRT looks at how a patient’s brain is currently functioning and helps pinpoint areas of the brain that are not communicating as they should.
Language is a good example. MeRT can support autistic patients to help improve and develop their language skills by targeting that specific brain area with magnetic stimulation therapy.
What Conditions Can MeRT Treat?
MeRT is primarily used in the treatment of drug-resistant depression and autism. It has also been used off-label and infrequently in the treatment of the following conditions:
- Learning disorders
- Traumatic brain injury
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Head trauma following a stroke
Medical professionals may recommend MeRT as a treatment for children with autism. However, these experts advise that the treatment is not used in children under the age of five.
Benefits of MeRT for Autism
The most significant benefit of MeRT over other magnetic stimulation treatments is that it is fully tailored and targeted towards an individual’s unique brain patterns and diagnosis.
Here are some of the other main benefits of MeRT as a treatment:
- MeRT is a pain-free treatment
- MeRT is a drug-free treatment, allowing patients to avoid potential side effects of drug treatments or drug dependency problems
- MeRT is a safe and non-invasive therapy
- Scientific evidence shows that MeRT can improve brain communication
- The treatment is relatively short term as most treatment protocols last between six and eight weeks
- Results are seen fast and often within the first few weeks of treatment
- It offers hope for patients who aren’t experiencing improvements with other traditional therapies, such as drugs
- MeRT can boost sleep quality
- MeRT can improve mental focus
- MeRT can help regulate mood and improve how a patient handles stressful situations and environments
- MeRT can improve a patient’s social skills
- MeRT can help manage anxiety-related conditions associated with autism
- MeRT therapy retrains the brain to give patients a long-term improvement in brain communication.
Like any therapy, MeRT doesn’t work on everyone. However, it is an exciting treatment that can potentially offer hope to millions of autistic children and adults worldwide.
How can MeRT help Autism?
Current studies suggest that MeRT and TMS protocols may be helpful for treating Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It is unlikely that TMS can bring significant benefits to all symptoms of ASD. With current data it is unclear whether the benefits experienced from TMS can be a long-term solution for ASD. There have been no reports so far as to any severe sided effects of treating ASD with MeRT and TMS.
How is TMS used for Autism?
Depending on where an individual lies on the spectrum of autism, certain parts of the brain may be targeted to address their unique symptoms. The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), for example, is thought to play a role in how one understands the mental state of others. One ASD patient receiving TMS therapy on this part of the brain reported that eye contact was less uncomfortable and that social situations were more natural.
When You Should Consider MeRT Treatment
Medical professionals may consider MeRT as part of a treatment plan once a patient has a formal diagnosis for a condition on the autism spectrum.
Patients who have completed other therapy or drug treatment as part of their autism diagnosis, and haven’t seen the improvements they expected, may also be good candidates for this treatment.
What to Expect When Starting a MeRT Treatment
The first step is an initial assessment with a trained MeRT therapy team.
During this initial assessment, the patient receives an EEG (Electroencephalogram – a brain scan), a brain mapping, and a personalized treatment protocol for the complete MeRT treatment.
That plan will use neurophysiological information from the initial scan to focus the treatment on the location of the brain that the magnetic stimulation will target and the frequency of the stimulation therapy.
A fully qualified and experienced physician always carries out the treatment.
During the initial brain scan and the therapy sessions, the patient will wear a nylon or robber cap that marks the location points for the therapy. This headwear is comfortable for patients and similar to a swimming cap.
Book a Consultation Now
If your child has a diagnosis of an autistic condition, it is normal to feel concerned and worried. You want the best for your child, and it is natural to seek out the best and most updated treatments for autism available.
The first step is to talk to a professional. If you have a family member with an autistic condition and you are considering if MeRT therapy is right for them, book a free initial consultation today.
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