Several years ago, Corbyn was struggling to concentrate at school in his hometown of Regina, which led to diagnoses of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and anxiety. Around the same time, his mom, Melanie, started noticing little “tics” in Corbyn, which, she initially thought might be related to the ADHD. However, the tics – both motor and verbal – seemed to worsen and Corbyn was soon diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. This actually came as a relief – it was validating for Corbyn to know there was a name and explanation for what he was experiencing – there wasn’t something “wrong” with him.
Corbyn was on several different medications, but the drugs could easily lessen or counteract each other’s effects, so even if the tics were better controlled, the ADHD would flare up and vice versa. It was a challenge finding the right dosages and combinations and because of the fluctuating medications, he was losing weight and becoming increasingly fatigued. He was struggling in school – anxious about doing presentations, stressed to the point of tears and eventually, the tics became so bad, he couldn’t even hold a pencil.
As things were hitting rock bottom, Melanie’s aunt notified her about a study going on at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary. The study was looking at the effects of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) in kids with Tourette’s. TMS is a non-invasive and painless brain stimulation, which targets specific regions of the brain – in Corbyn’s case, the regions that were being overactive and causing his tics. Corbyn was excited at the idea of a new therapy – something that might help him feel and function better, so he and his mom relocated to Calgary for five weeks so he could be part of the TMS program. First, he had an MRI so specialists could identify which tiny sections of his brain they needed to target and then he received TMS up to four times a week for an hour at a time. He was simultaneously doing a therapy called cognitive behavioural intervention for tics. Not long after participating in the study, Melanie noticed some very positive changes in Corbyn. He was less stressed and anxious, the frequency of his tics were greatly reduced and his grades at school skyrocketed.
Melanie is so grateful that Corbyn had the opportunity to participate in the TMS study and calls the effects of his experience at the Alberta Children’s Hospital “life-changing.”
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