Shock waves have been used in medicine since the 1980s and are firmly established in the fields of orthopedics, urology, dermatology, etc. With transcranial pulse stimulation, shock waves have now extended their field of application to diseases of the central nervous system. Shock waves possess a whole range of special properties that make it possible to exert therapeutic effective forces on localized tissue areas and to initiate a process known as “mechanotransduction”: This refers to the transmission of mechanical stimuli (“mechano”) to tissues and cells and a biological response (“transduction”) to them in the form of regeneration, biostimulation, or cascading activation of specific bodily mechanisms.
But what are shock waves actually? Shock waves, also called sound waves, are first of all mechanical or acoustic waves. They are created by the ultra-short compression (i.e. compression – e.g. of gases or air – with an increase in pressure and reduction in volume) and subsequent relaxation of matter. Shock waves can pass through organic matter without much change, absorption, or damage. A shock wave has a singular pressure pulse that lasts only about one millisecond. Since a medium such as air or water is needed to generate a shock wave, shock waves used in medicine are generated in water. And it is precisely nerve cells that can be stimulated to activity or to emit action potentials with particularly weak shock wave pulses.
In transcranial pulse stimulation, these extremely low-frequency shock waves are transmitted non-invasively through the skullcap into the brain tissue via a hand-held applicator, and specific regions in the brain can be targeted and treated. In the process, metabolic processes at the synaptic switching points (the axons) of the nerve cells are activated and properly trained, i.e. stimulated. The extremely short sound pulses of transcranial pulse stimulation lead to short-term membrane changes in the brain cells. The concentration of transmitters and other biochemical substances is changed locally. The consequence is an activation of nerve cells and the development of compensatory networks, i.e. the formation of new synapses, which improve the diseased brain function. In addition, growth factors are released, which in turn influence the development of stem cells. In addition, there is an improvement in cerebral blood flow, as well as the formation of new vessels and nerve regeneration. Finally, the treatment can support the release of nitric oxide and the stimulation of the so-called BDNF, proteins from the group of neurotrophins that protect nerve cells and synapses.
To sum up, Transcranial Pulse Stimulation is simply a supportive and at the same time gentle tool for the human organism to regenerate itself. However, like all innovations in this world, it takes time for this knowledge to find its way into the general knowledge described at the beginning. It is to be hoped that this will not again take more than 20 years as with adult neurons.