The do-it-yourself transcranial direct current stimulation (DIY tDCS) community is growing in numbers and sophistication – particularly as new studies are published and tDCS devices emerge in the marketplace. It may be time to be a bit more proactive in providing safety information to many who will become curious enough about tDCS to want to try it.
I’d like to propose DIY tDCS Safety Standards (better name welcome). Below is a draft for your comment. Perhaps if we can get some agreement on content and wording, those of us who publish tDCS blogs and websites as well as vendors could consider posting it somewhere on their site.
By proposing this code of safety, I’m not encouraging anyone to try tDCS, but I know it’s happening – so guidance is appropriate and necessary.
DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT (Your comments welcome. I’ll repost blog this as I edit it with your suggestions.)
DIY tDCS Safety Standards
As a potential or current do-it-yourself tDCS user I agree to the following:
1. I will, if reasonably possible, seek out a medical professional for tDCS advice, treatments and follow-up.
2. If I have cranial scar tissue, an implant, or other unusual medical condition, I will seek clearance from my doctor before using tDCS. If I have a seizure disorder I will refrain from using tDCS or use it only under direct supervision of qualified medical personnel.
3. I will not, under any circumstances, directly connect a battery to my head. I understand that I could greatly exceed the maximum 2 mA current limit used by tDCS researchers, possibly harming myself in the process.
4. I understand that electronic components can fail unpredictably. For this reason, I will never plug a tDCS device directly or indirectly into an electrical outlet. I understand that by doing so a simple component failure could result in death (or worse).
4a. If I do not have a solid understanding of electrical and electronic concepts, components, and procedures, I will not attempt to build a tDCS device.
5. I will not exceed 30 minutes in a tDCS session. This is the maximum used in tDCS research. I will use the “buddy system” and never proceed with a tDCS session without someone else present who is familiar with the shutdown process for my tDCS device – or who can at least remove electrodes and summon additional help should that be necessary.
6. I will use some means to verify the current level being produced by my tDCS device. This could be from a built-in ammeter or an external digital volt meter (DVM). I will never exceed the 2 mA limit used by tDCS researchers.
7. I will use electrode placements that have been studied and published by respected researchers and not simply guess or experiment with electrode placement. I will do my best to stay abreast of tDCS research and development.
8. If I detect any undesirable effect from tDCS, I will immediately cease use until the cause is clearly understood and corrected.
9. I will not experiment on friends, family, associates, or others. It is up to each individual to read, research, and understand the risks, benefits, and limitations of tDCS and make their own decision about its appropriateness to their situation, preferably in consultation with a medical professional. I will never use tDCS on children or animals.
10. I understand that, with regard to DIY tDCS and any actions I might take, I am responsible for my own well-being and above all else, safety and wise decisions will be my primary concerns.