Tourette syndrome (TS) and chronic tic disorder (CTD) are neurological disorders of childhood onset characterized by the occurrence of tics; repetitive, purposeless, movements or vocalizations of short duration which can occur many times throughout a day. Currently, effective treatment for tic disorders is an area of considerable unmet clinical need. We aimed to evaluate the efficacy of a home-administered neuromodulation treatment for tics involving the delivery of rhythmic pulse trains of median nerve stimulation (MNS) delivered via a wearable ‘watch-like’ device worn at the wrist. We conducted a UK-wide parallel double-blind sham-controlled trial for the reduction of tics in individuals with tic disorder. The device was programmed to deliver rhythmic (10 Hz) trains of low-intensity (1–19 mA) electrical stimulation to the median nerve for a pre-determined duration each day, and was intended to be used by each participant in their home once each day, 5 days each week, for a period of 4 weeks. Between 18th March 2022 and 26th September 2022, 135 participants (45 per group) were initially allocated, using stratified randomization, to one of the following groups; active stimulation; sham stimulation or to a waitlist (i.e. treatment as usual) control group. Recruited participants were individuals with confirmed or suspected TS/CTD aged 12 years of age or upward with moderate to severe tics. Researchers involved in the collection or processing of measurement outcomes and assessing the outcomes, as well as participants in the active and sham groups and their legal guardians were all blind to the group allocation. The primary outcome measure used to assess the ‘offline’ or treatment effect of stimulation was the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale–Total Tic Severity Score (YGTSS–TTSS) assessed at the conclusion of 4 weeks of stimulation. The primary outcome measure used to assess the ‘online’ effects of stimulation was tic frequency, measured as the number of tics per minute (TPM) observed, based upon blind analysis of daily video recordings obtained while stimulation was delivered. The results demonstrated that after 4-week stimulation, tic severity (YGTSS-TTSS) had reduced by 7.1 points (35 percentile reduction) for the active stimulation group compared to 2.13/2.11 points for the sham stimulation and waitlist control groups. The reduction in YGTSS–TTSS for the active stimulation group was substantially larger, clinically meaningful (effect size = .5) and statistically significant (p = .02) compared to both the sham stimulation and waitlist control groups, which did not differ from one another (effect size = −.03). Furthermore, blind analyses of video recordings demonstrated that tic frequency (tics per minute) reduced substantially (−15.6 TPM) during active stimulation compared to sham stimulation (−7.7 TPM). This difference represents a statistically significant (p < .03) and clinically meaningful reduction in tic frequency (>25 percentile reduction: effect size = .3). These findings indicate that home-administered rhythmic MNS delivered through a wearable wrist-worn device has the potential to be an effective community-based treatment for tic disorders.

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This post is Copyright: Barbara Morera Maiquez,
Caitlin Smith,
Katherine Dyke,
Chia‐Ping Chou,
Belinda Kasbia,
Ciara McCready,
Hannah Wright,
Jessica K. Jackson,
Isabel Farr,
Erika Badinger,
Georgina M. Jackson,
Stephen R. Jackson | September 6, 2023
Wiley: Journal of Neuropsychology: Table of Contents