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Double-Blind, Sham-Controlled, Pilot Study of Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.

OBJECTIVE: Trigeminal nerve stimulation (TNS), a minimal-risk noninvasive neuromodulation method, showed potential benefits for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in an unblinded open study. The present blinded sham-controlled trial was conducted to assess the efficacy and safety of TNS for ADHD and potential changes in brain spectral power using resting-state quantitative electroencephalography.

METHOD: Sixty-two children 8 to 12 years old, with full-scale IQ of at least 85 and Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia-diagnosed ADHD, were randomized to 4 weeks of nightly treatment with active or sham TNS, followed by 1 week without intervention. Assessments included weekly clinician-administered ADHD Rating Scales (ADHD-RS) and Clinical Global Impression (CGI) scales and quantitative electroencephalography at baseline and week 4.

RESULTS: ADHD-RS total scores showed significant group-by-time interactions (F1,228  = 8.12, p = .005; week 4 Cohen d = 0.5). CGI-Improvement scores also favored active treatment (χ2 1,168  = 8.75, p = .003; number needed to treat = 3). Resting-state quantitative electroencephalography showed increased spectral power in the right frontal and frontal midline frequency bands with active TNS. Neither group had clinically meaningful adverse events.

CONCLUSION: This study demonstrates TNS efficacy for ADHD in a blinded sham-controlled trial, with estimated treatment effect size similar to non-stimulants. TNS is well tolerated and has minimal risk. Additional research should examine treatment response durability and potential impact on brain development with sustained use.

CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION INFORMATION: Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation for ADHD;; NCT02155608.

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