Marom Bikson, Colleen A Hanlon, Adam J Woods, Bernadette T Gillick, Leigh Charvet, Claus Lamm, Graziella Madeo, Adrienn Holczer, Jorge Almeida, Andrea Antal, Mohammad Reza Ay
The COVID-19 pandemic has broadly disrupted biomedical treatment and research including non-invasive brain stimulation (NIBS). Moreover, the rapid onset of societal disruption and evolving regulatory restrictions may not have allowed for systematic planning of how clinical and research work may continue throughout the pandemic or be restarted as restrictions are abated. The urgency to provide and develop NIBS as an intervention for diverse neurological and mental health indications, and as a catalyst of fundamental brain research, is not dampened by the parallel efforts to address the most life-threatening aspects of COVID-19; rather in many cases the need for NIBS is heightened including the potential to mitigate mental health consequences related to COVID-19.
To facilitate the re-establishment of access to NIBS clinical services and research operations during the current COVID-19 pandemic and possible future outbreaks, we develop and discuss a framework for balancing the importance of NIBS operations with safety considerations, while addressing the needs of all stakeholders. We focus on Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) and low intensity transcranial Electrical Stimulation (tES) - including transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation (tACS).