For those who have ADHD, a new drug-free, noninvasive form of relief may be on the way. Recently, the FDA approved the first-ever device that treats the condition, called the Monarch external Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation (eTNS) System. The cell-phone-sized device emits mild electric charges meant to relieve ADHD symptoms while the child is sleeping. And while the thought of shocking your children may sound jarring or upsetting, it won't actually cause them any pain.
"The treatment provides persistent stimulation to the trigeminal nerve through small electric patches placed on the child's forehead during sleep," Richard Gallagher, PhD, associate professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone in New York City, told Parents. "The patches are connected to a current generator that provides small pulses of electricity. The reported side effects include a tingling sensation that has not been reported to be unpleasant, and it does not disrupt sleep [according to manufacturer reports]."
The new device was approved by the FDA after it was tested on a study involving 62 children, all of whom didn't experience any adverse side effects during the trial. For parents who want to take a medication-free approach, the device could be a game-changer. "Although effective, medication does have some side effects for children," Dr. Gallagher explained. "These side effects can impact functioning as they may decrease appetite and sleep."
However, the eTNS System requires more testing to measure the long-term effects. "It is possible that this noninvasive method may have a lasting effect on brain activity, which might be more permanent," said Dr. Gallagher. "Of course, many more studies need to be conducted to test this notion."
Kids between the ages of 7 and 12 who are unmedicated are eligible to use the device, but make sure you speak with you child's doctor first. "Parents should consult with their treating physicians and any treating therapists to discuss the approach, if the children have been evaluated and are being treated," advised Dr. Gallagher. "The device requires a prescription to be used."