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Effects of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation on memory and behavior in Alzheimer's disease may be stage-dependent.

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By Scherder EJ, Bouma A • • March 15, 1999

BACKGROUND: In previous studies, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) was shown to result in improvements in nonverbal short-term and long-term memory, verbal long-term memory, and verbal fluency in patients in an early stage of Alzheimer's disease (AD). In addition, the patients' physical, social, and affective functioning improved. As AD is a progressive disease, it was examined in the present study whether TENS would still be effective in the midstage of AD.

METHODS: Sixteen subjects (70-91 years old) met the NINCDS-ADRDA criteria for probable AD, as well as the criteria for stage 6 of the Global Deterioration Scale (midstage AD). To evaluate treatment effects, the subjects underwent a number of neuropsychological tests and two observation scales.

RESULTS: Compared to TENS in an early stage, TENS in the midstage of AD appears to yield less beneficial effects, i.e., as for cognition only nonverbal short-term memory improved. No treatment effects were observed for the patients' physical, social, and affective functioning.

CONCLUSIONS: In view of the small number of patients, the clinical relevance of TENS in patients in a midstage of AD remains to be confirmed in a larger group, after which more definite conclusions about the stage-dependency of TENS in AD can be drawn.

Source: Biol Psychiatry 1999 Mar 15;45(6):743-9
PMID: 10188004, UI: 99203819

(Department of Clinical Psychology, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

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