Cool tDCS Headset from www.foc.us May 16, 2013Posted by SpeakWisdom in Uncategorized.
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It’s no secret that I’m frustrated by how hard it is to get the tDCS ball rolling as an accepted, working, safe technology that can improve the lives of millions (and save a bunch of lives, too.) Apparently others agree and are working diligently to bring tDCS devices to market – working as best they can to avoid the “medical device” label that drags the FDA into the loop.
I mentioned the rather creative very low current DC supply from http://www.biocurrent.com in my last post. This week, great news came from http://www.foc.us that they are taking orders for their new, really cool tDCS headset. It sells for about $250 and has a tDCS accessory kit that adds $50 to the price. Deliveries are scheduled to start in July. The Foc.US device looks good, has a great feature set, and allows you to control it directly or with an iOS device! It’s marketed as a gamer enhancement device but has an accessory kit for full tDCS capability.
See www.foc.us to sign up for relevant emails.
tDCS Reality-Check and Review of the Biocurrent Kit April 29, 2013Posted by SpeakWisdom in Uncategorized.
Tags: antidepressant, Biocurrent kit, chronic pain, depression, diy tdcs, tDCS, tDCS Device, tDCS kit, transcranial, transcranial direct current stimulation
OK, it’s time for a tDCS reality check!
Fact: (sadly), tDCS will always be a niche thing. There is no way for big-pharma or physicians to rake in tons of cash on a treatment that is so simple that it can’t even be patented. Persons wishing to take advantage of traditional two-electrode tDCS will seemingly be left up to their own resourcefulness while high-definition tDCS (because of complexity of many electrodes) will remain in the hands of a few physicians and research institutes.
Given the above, it’s unlikely that (in the US at least) you will ever be able to go to the corner drug store and pick up a two-electrode tDCS device. Likely big-pharma will lobby against it – and the FDA won’t allow it – even though a trained pharmacist could easily show you how to correctly use it! It’s really a heart-breaker because for the masses (otherwise generally healthy individuals), two-electrode tDCS is a Godsend. The whole situation is a great demonstration of just how messed up our system of medicine can be – even if it is the best in the world.
If you have bothered to read the scientific papers (see my blog and many others) or happen to know some folks who have used tDCS to treat depression, chronic-pain, or used it to enhance learning or memory, then you know tDCS might just be the greatest thing since aspirin.
Given market and bureaucratic realities, the vast majority of people wishing to take advantage of tDCS will be left to; 1. find the all too rare doctor familiar and treating with tDCS, 2. build their own tDCS device, 3. buy a tDCS device from off-shore, or 4. buy a domestically sold battery powered “very low current DC power supply” and use it for tDCS. I’ve written extensively about 1, 2, and 3 in prior posts. So lets explore number 4.
The FDA does not regulate the sale of DC power supplies. If someone were to acquire a battery operated, very low current supply (2 mA max) and on their own decide to use it for tDCS, who could stop them? Hopefully they will have read well all the practical and safety information regarding tDCS.
Enter the Biocurrent Kit
www.biocurrentkit.com has just started offering a battery operated 1 to 2 mA kit that is offered not as a tDCS device (tDCS doesn’t even appear in their instruction sheet and barely on the web site), but as a regulated very low current DC supply. What you do with it is up to you. Biocurrent sent me an evaluation unit to dig into and I have to say, I’m impressed with the simplicity of the kit – and that it does exactly what Biocurrent says it will do – supply 1, 1.5, or 2 mA current.
Here’s a look at the kit just after unpacking the box:
It consists of three current control modules (1, 1.5, and 2 mA), a battery pack, connecting wires, electrodes, headband, and easy to follow instructions. The wires supplied have different connectors so that you can not mis-wire the kit. You simply plug the “building blocks” together and you have a nice regulated very low current DC supply! What you do with it is your business.
(A closer look at the current control modules and battery pack.)
(Assembled kit with 1.5 mA module. Electrodes plug into wires at the top of the image.)
The kit sells for $185 at www.biocurrentkit.com
What the Biocurrent kit lacks in beauty and charm it more than makes up for with creativity and simplicity. I’m sure future versions will become more refined. But hey, it works! I’m hoping they will add a meter-module – I’m a big fan of being able to measure the exact current level of a DC power supply. A timer module would be another interesting add-on!
Want to try tDCS? Seek out a medical professional treating with tDCS first. They are more rare than 50 carat diamonds – so good luck. Want to buy a “real” tDCS device, good luck again – in the US they are prescribed medical devices so they are VERY expensive. You are left with buying from an off-shore source or re-purposing a domestically obtained iontophoresis (or similar) device. What Biocurrent offers is an interesting and creative twist. I’m so curious to see if there are enough buyers for this idea to fly. If you decide to go this route, it is up to you to read, read, read, tDCS related material so that you know what you are doing and can do it safely.
Maybe one day you will be able to buy a tDCS device from the corner drug store or Walmart – with required guidance from the pharmacist – and dump forever those expensive and side-effect laden pills. Probably not in my lifetime!
Just for Fun: tDCS in a Bottle April 25, 2013Posted by SpeakWisdom in Uncategorized.
Tags: antidepressant, chronic pain, depression, diy tdcs, tDCS, tDCS Device, tDCS kit, transcranial, transcranial direct current stimulation
If you have been reading my blog, you know that I have built a number of tDCS devices – from the simple to the complex. All do basically the same thing – deliver a very low current for the purpose of various tDCS treatments. I mentioned in my last post that Keith Spaulding of http://dcstim.blogspot.com has come up with what must be the simple tDCS design of the decade. It works, too! Keith plans to market a line of tDCS devices and I’ll review his first in my next post.
I decided to borrow Keith’s design one more time and build a simple tDCS device into an old pill bottle, just to show how easy it is to build a current regulated tDCS device – and to show how small they can be. My latest creation could easily be carried in a pocket or tucked in a hat. I call it “tDCS in a Bottle” and yes – I decided to copyright the name – hey why not?
My simple circuit consists of a type 23A 12v volt battery, a 2.2 k Ohm resistor, a current regulating diode (CRD), a pill bottle, and some lead wires. You could build one yourself in 15 minutes or less!
(Wired and tested tDCS components ready to stuff in a pill bottle. Yes, I did peel the old labels off of the bottle.)
(Closed up, ready for new labels. Small, very portable, works!)
After I completed construction, I checked regulated current output with a DVM – and plan to do so periodically to verify battery condition.
It’s sort of an ironic twist to build a tDCS device into a pill bottle – just think how many people might be able to get off of pills if tDCS were in wide use by the medical community! Wow! Anyway – “tDCS in a Bottle” works and works well – delivering a current regulated 1, 1.5, or 2 mA depending on which CRD is used.
If anyone is interested in partnering to sell these at the check-out at Walmart, let me know. We could do the country a lot of good! Pharma would not be happy. Think the FDA would be ok with it?
Disclaimer: As always, your use of any information posted here is at your risk.
A Very Simple Current Regulated tDCS Device April 2, 2013Posted by SpeakWisdom in Uncategorized.
Tags: antidepressant, depression, diy tdcs, tDCS, tDCS Device, tDCS kit, transcranial, transcranial direct current stimulation
The Holy Grail of tDCS seems to be availability of a very simple, current regulated device that is easy to build and use. Keith Spaulding of
got us about as close as we are likely to get with this design:
I decided to use Keith’s design, with some minor variations, and build a tDCS device. Keith’s tDCS design is based on using a current regulating diode (CRD). CRD’s are available in many variations including three values that are of particular interest to DIY tDCS. They are 1 mA, 1.5 mA, and 2 mA. You pick the value you desire, build Keith’s circuit and away you go – current limited tDCS. Here are some plus and minus items to consider:
- Very simple to build
- Current limited by resistor if CRD shorts in failure
- Current is fixed – you can’t ramp it up or down.
- You may see a phosphene at start or end of tDCS session
- Keith’s design does not include a meter to confirm current level
I decided to make the following changes to Keith’s design:
1. Use a single type 23A 12 volt battery instead of two 9 volt batteries. This limits CRD failure current to 12 / 2200 = 5.5 mA instead of 8.2 mA in Keith’s design. Neither is dangerous according to studies published on the web. Both would be very irritating and immediately noticable to a user! I do use a 9 volt battery to power the display (below). You can expect 3-6 months of battery life from the type 25a tDCS battery and a year or more from the 9 volt display battery given regular use.
2. Added a digital mA panel meter so that actual current delivered can be monitored
3. Added a DPST switch to act as an on-off switch for the tDCS circuit and on-off for a separate battery and resistor to power the meter. The digital meter I purchased needs 5 volts to operate. I use a 9 volt battery with a 1 k Ohm resistor in series to achieve the desired operating voltage.
Before I built a “permanent” CRD tDCS device, I built a test unit using a breadboard.
The type 25A battery is at the left side of the pic, the leads that go to the sponge electrodes are at the right. Follow the red lead from the battery and you will see the CRD. It’s tiny! In the breadboard example I used two 1 k Ohm resistors (what I had handy), one in series with the plus lead of the battery and one in series with the negative lead (instead of a single 2 k Ohm resistor in series with the plus lead. Either method is fine.) I also threw in a 100 uF capacitor (the blue cylinder) across the leads to the sponges to ease start-up and shut-down current. I did away with it in the final build – it didn’t seem that helpful.
Close-up of the CRD. Note the black band is away from the plus of the battery. I decided to use a 1.5 mA CRD. Why? Studies posted on the web show that 2 mA is better than 1 mA for treatment effectiveness. However, it is my experience that 2 mA irritates the skin of many individuals causing them to cease using tDCS. As odd as it seems, backing the current off to 1.5 mA reduces reports of irritation to almost zero.
For the final build, I used a RS project box I had on hand. You could build a CRD based tDCS device into something much smaller and more attractive.
In the bottom left is the digital mA meter circuit. To its right is a DPST switch. The left portion of the switch is used as on-off for the meter. A 1 k Ohm resistor is in series with a 9 volt battery and the switch to provide the 5 volts needed by the meter. The right portion of the switch is the on-off connecting the 12 volt type 25a battery to the series connected 2.2 k Ohm resistor, the CRD and the electrodes. You can see the CRD at top-center of the pic, just before I placed heat-shrink tubing over it to protect it.
Wires dressed, ready to close up the box.
Completed unit with electrodes attached shows it’s regulated current level, 1.5 mA.
So Where Do the Parts Come From?
The case, switch, resistor, battery clips, heat-shrink tubing, and leads all come from Radio Shack. The CRD came from www.mouser.com. I used PN 954-E-152, a 1.5 mA CRD with axial leads. Be careful not to buy a surface-mount device unless you are well prepared to deal with one. The “3 digit Mini Blue LED DC 100mA meter” came from “Coldfusionx” via EBay. They are in California – not China – so delivery was quick. I use Amrex electrodes which are available via Amazon and other suppliers.
By the way, I found the meter, as delivered, to be slightly out of calibration (it read too high). I was able to check and recalibrate it (adjustment screw) against a couple of DVMs.
Total cost for this project was about $50.
Keith’s design is as simple as it gets. If you want more flexible current control, you could add a selector switch and CRDs of different values – or you could use one of the many LM device designs on the web and build a tDCS device with fully variable control. Either way, tDCS is an amazing and wonderful thing. Please proceed with caution and read all that you can before attempting to build your own device – especially read safety related articles and papers! Best of all would be for you to seek out a medical professional like www.transcranialbrainstimulation.com .
The information presented in this article represents an accumulation sourced from articles, papers, popular press, and other sources easily accessed on the internet. While evidence so far indicates that tDCS is very safe, your use of information in this article is completely at your risk. You are advised to seek out a trained medical professional for assistance with tDCS.
#4 in the YouTube Series: Treating Depression with tDCS March 23, 2013Posted by SpeakWisdom in Uncategorized.
Tags: depression, diy tdcs, electrode, tDCS, tDCS Device, transcranial, transcranial direct current stimulation
1 comment so far
(Image from the web)
Depression is a significant national problem affecting individuals and their families and friends. tDCS has been show to have a positive effect in the treatment of depression. The tDCS treatment is very simple and has trivial side effects.
In this YouTube video, the forth in a series, I present information about treating depression with tDCS. I hope you will find it useful and pass along what you learn.
The tDCS “Cat” is Out of the Bag March 19, 2013Posted by SpeakWisdom in Uncategorized.
Tags: antidepressant, depression, diy tdcs, Education, tDCS, tDCS Device, tDCS kit, transcranial, transcranial direct current stimulation
Aspirin is a miracle medication. Isolated by Hoffman in 1897, it is a simple compound that, these days, can be created by anyone who has had a high-school chemistry course. Aspirin can, of course, be purchased in commercial form and most people are familiar with certain maladies that can be treated by it. On the fringes, there are esoteric uses for aspirin, but in the main, it is well understood and used by millions of people every day.
What about transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)? It’s simpler and (apparently) safer than aspirin – when used correctly – and is effective in treating depression, chronic pain, enhancing learning and much more in otherwise healthy people. So why can’t the average person on the street buy a tDCS device and self-administer treatment?
There are at least three reasons. First, tDCS is relatively new and studies that confirm its effectiveness and safety are just emerging. Two, certain tDCS treatment scenarios can be pretty complex, well beyond the ability of an average person to carry out. Third, there is no way for big-pharma to cash in on tDCS (yet). It’s very unlikely you will ever see expensive commercials during your favorite TV show advertising tDCS to treat some focus-group tested three-letter malady. It won’t happen. tDCS devices are extremely simple to build (or buy) and treatment protocols for certain ailments ARE simple and are all over the internet.
The average Joe will learn about tDCS and start demanding access to it because a bunch of do-it-yourself (DIY) folks and a few physicians will have succeeded in a grass-roots effort to get the word out. Yes, there is also a small and growing group of doctors that see the obvious benefits of tDCS (and lack of risk) and are starting to use it with their patients – and their patients are becoming some of the best spokes-persons for tDCS.
According to the CDC, about 1 in 10 adults in the US uses some form of antidepressant. Their depression may or may not be well controlled and they likely suffer at least some noticeable side effects. Sources vary, but about $3 billion is spent on antidepressants every year. These numbers do not reflect a significant number of individuals who ARE depressed but not receiving any treatment – due to costs, social pressures, etc.
It’s hard to believe, but various sources report that as many as 1 in 3 Americans suffer from chronic pain. Cost? $500-600 billion per year!
The tDCS Triad
Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation has been shown to provide relief for depression and chronic pain, and to enhance learning (the tDCS triad) – and much more. When treating the “triad”, it is simple, apparently very safe, and has no significant side effects. Can similar claims be made for any other other treatment (medication)?
Does it work for everyone? The simple answer is no, but for many it does – and for many who failed to get relief (or enhancement) from medications.
tDCS is not just about depression, chronic pain, and learning enhancement. As mentioned above, there are very broad areas of research seeking potential use in treating Alzheimers, stroke, brain trauma, etc. Treatment for those less understood ailments can be quite complex and require MRI or FMRI to design an appropriate regimen and the use of “high definition” tDCS, using ten electrodes or more, as part of the treatment. This is well beyond the ability of the DIY community.
But the “triad” (depression, chronic pain, learning enhancement) is normally treated with simple “bipolar tDCS” – two electrodes are placed in very specific locations on the scalp, which are well known, as part of normal treatment.
Because bi-polar tDCS involves such simple equipment and procedures, a rather sizable “do-it-yourself” community has taken up the mantle of treating themselves and helping friends reap the benefits of tDCS.
DIY tDCS is growing because most doctors have no idea what tDCS is – or what it can do. Further, doctors who do use tDCS cannot bill insurance for tDCS treatments (it is not yet “recognized” by the FDA.) So treatment can be expensive – out of reach for many – and simply unavailable in most areas of the US. So it seems that the DIY community will continue to build tDCS devices, use tDCS to treat the “triad”, and spread the word via emails and blogs. Meanwhile, research centers, Universities, and the like will continue their work on all areas of tDCS using their more sophisticated equipment and techniques to push the boundaries of tDCS application.
tDCS for Everyone?
One day, tDCS may be as commonly used as aspirin for treating certain issues – but we have a long, long way to go to get to that point. Like aspirin, tDCS won’t help everyone – but scientific and anecdotal evidence says it can help many. So while we wait, millions go untreated (or poorly-treated) and live lesser lives due to lack of access to tDCS triad treatments and all the benefits they can bring. Come on medical community, come on FDA.
Very Interesting tDCS Design March 9, 2013Posted by SpeakWisdom in Uncategorized.
Tags: chronic pain, depression, diy tdcs, learning enhancement, tDCS, tDCS Device, tDCS kit, transcranial, transcranial direct current stimulation
1 comment so far
I ran into a design for a very simple tDCS device via the http://www.diytdcs.com blog. It’s by Keith Spaulding and uses a current regulating diode rather that a current regulating IC. I’ve ordered some CRD’s and will report on building a device in the near future. This is about as simple as a good tDCS device could get! I will add an on/off selector switch and a ramp up/down capacitor to Keith’s idea. I might also use a type 25A 12v battery just to keep things as small as possible. Little need for a meter or other circuit complications! Here is his schematic and a link to his blog… Thank you Keith.
#3 in YouTube tDCS Series: Electrodes and Wires March 9, 2013Posted by SpeakWisdom in Uncategorized.
Tags: depression, diy tdcs, electrodes, tDCS, tDCS Device, transcranial, transcranial direct current stimulation
The third installment in my YouTube series on tDCS is live. This little presentation covers commonly used tDCS electrodes and wires.
Your comments and suggestions for future presentations are welcome!
YouTube Series #2: Building a Resistor Based tDCS Device February 28, 2013Posted by SpeakWisdom in Uncategorized.
Tags: diy tdcs, tDCS, tDCS Device, tDCS kit, transcranial, transcranial direct current stimulation
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I’ve received so many messages from folks wanting to know more about how to build a tDCS device, I thought a little YouTube video might help. The resistor-based device I describe is meant to explain more of the mechanics of how a tDCS device works (it’s not a suggestion that you build one.). I’ll cover more sophisticated, regulated devices in a future presentation and post. For now, I hope this little presentation will help answer some questions:
Introduction to tDCS, Devices, Treatment, and More. Part 1 of Many. February 26, 2013Posted by SpeakWisdom in Uncategorized.
Tags: chronic pain, depression, diy tdcs, tDCS, tDCS Device, tdcs novice, transcranial
Based on the questions I have received via my blog and email, I’ve created a series of short presentations designed help everyone seeking information on tDCS.
Your comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome.
I hope the information I present will be helpful.
Brent / email@example.com