Prof. Dr. Dr. Ulrich Sprick on his research on Transcranial Pulse Stimulation

“In our application observations, we see the great potential of TPS confirmed.”

Transcranial Pulse Stimulation currently continues to be clinically investigated at several international sites. Evidence of the potential effects, a deeper understanding of the functional mechanisms of low-energy shock waves in neurological and psychiatric conditions, and the potential benefits of TPS in the new conditions of post-covid and neuro-covid are the subject of ongoing studies and observational studies.

Prof. Dr. med. Dr. rer. nat. Ulrich Sprick, specialist in psychiatry and psychotherapy, head physician of the outpatient clinics and day clinics of the Alexius/Josef Hospital Neuss, Centre for Mental Health as well as professor at the Medical Faculty of the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf reports in an interview on his research work, the state of science and why, in his opinion, Transcranial Pulse Stimulation will have a firm place in the treatment of dementia diseases and other neurodegenerative diseases in the future – Long-Covid or. Neuro-Covid included.

Alzheimer Science (AS): “Professor Sprick, you have just returned from Sao Paulo in Brazil, where you shared your research and experience with Transcranial Pulse Stimulation with colleagues there, who in the meantime are also working with TPS in various countries in South America. You have gained a lot of experience, also in the scientific field, and we know that you have a very positive attitude towards TPS. But how did you originally come up with the TPS?”

Prof. Sprick (US): “I first got to know the TPS about three years ago at MEDICA (editor’s note: one of the largest trade fairs in the world). Since I have been dealing with brain stimulation possibilities in my research work for about 40 years, I found the approach of TPS very interesting and saw the potential that lies in this therapy development. Although the number of studies is still comparatively low at the moment, this will change in the near future and then I don’t see any more problems regarding the acceptance of this method.”

“The therapy works for a large number of our patients to an extent that we would not have expected.”
Prof. Dr. Dr. Ulrich Sprick

AS: “You then started working clinically with the TPS just over a year ago.”

US: “That’s right. We first wanted to see, ‘does the method work or does it not work?’ We soon saw, the therapy works for a large number of our patients with Alzheimer’s dementia, and to a degree we did not expect. I must say that I do not measure success in terms of stopping the disease, but in terms of the actual improvements in the patients’ condition that result from TPS. Initially, I only hoped to achieve a “steady state”, i.e. a halting of the disease. However, I initially estimated that TPS would actually achieve an improvement in the state of the disease, perhaps only five percent. After all, it is still officially assumed that Alzheimer’s is a progressive and irreversible disease, i.e. it always progresses and cannot be reversed by medical intervention. Today, however, we see an excellent success rate of about 60 to 65 percent with TPS, which means that almost two-thirds of our patients achieve remarkable improvements in one or more areas. That’s a very big number and a great result that we didn’t expect.”

AS: “What can you use to establish these improvements, what methods do you use to prove the effectiveness of Transcranial Pulse Stimulation?”

US: “We use different test-psychological examinations. Alzheimer’s disease is a disorder that shimmers in very many different facets. The deficits in people are not the same everywhere, and therefore it is also very difficult to compare one Alzheimer’s patient with another. There are patients who ‘only’ have Alzheimer’s, but there are others who also have vascular or other forms of dementia, and therefore you have to have a larger number of patients in order to be able to prove effects statistically and significantly. So it took a while until we were able to collect enough relevant case reports, i.e. case documentation, to be able to complete an application observation with extensive professional tests. This application observation will now be published in early November 2022.”

AS: “And these clinical application observations show once again that the TPS can help dementia patients?”

US: “Of course. But I don’t want to say more about it publicly before publication.”

AS: “The core mechanism of action of Transcranial Pulse Stimulation is technically called ‘mechanotransduction’. What do you mean by this?”

US: “Mechanotransduction is a very special type of biological stimulation of the brain. It is interesting for many reasons, because different mechanisms of action are discussed here, in which I see quite a lot of potential. In the case of TPS, mechanotransduction means that the shock wave pulses trigger numerous biological effects in the brain. Neurotrophic growth factors are activated, the concentration of neurotransmitters such as serotonin or dopamine increases, new blood vessels are formed, this is called neoangiogenesis, which leads to improved blood flow to the brain and much, much more. Put simply, mechanotransduction defines the process that mechanical stimuli, in this case the shock waves, lead to cellular reactions that can trigger regenerative and activating processes. The fact is that it is the pressure of the shock wave that triggers these stimuli, not electrical or magnetic influences. So we know that mechanotransduction takes place and works, but of course there is still a lot of research to be done here.”

AS: “Keyword medication and Transcranial Pulse Stimulation. What importance do you give to TPS here?”

“In order to achieve an optimal effect, Transcranial Pulse Stimulation should be combined with drug therapy.”
Prof. Dr. Dr. Ulrich Sprick.

US: “Based on the different mechanisms of action, I see it as very sensible to carry out a so-called ‘state-of-the-art’ treatment, i.e. a therapy according to the latest findings, in a combined form: Medication plus TPS is my recommendation. This is because the interaction between the two components is particularly important in order to achieve an optimal effect. This has to do with the different modes of action. I believe that TPS also has effects on its own, but we currently achieve the optimal treatment success best with both methods.”

AS: “So medication should not be discontinued during TPS therapy?”

US: “No, medications should be maintained, otherwise we lose an important pillar here, through which TPS also works accordingly. Think of the blood-brain barrier, for example. This is opened by the TPS or even completely lifted for a certain period of time. This has been scientifically proven. And during this period of opening or complete removal of this barrier, medicinal substances can reach the brain and optimally unfold their effect in the right places. Until now, this has always been the problem, that drug substances could not really reach where they were needed. With the TPS, we have finally found a door opener.”

AS: “That is an important and interesting aspect that explains the effectiveness of the TPS more clearly. But back to the patients: Why don’t you tell us a little about your practice? Are there any cases that are of particular importance to you in relation to TPS?”

US: “My very first patient immediately comes to mind. Before the TPS treatment, she had very long latencies on the tests we use (editor’s note: latency is the time between a question and the patient’s answer on these tests). After six sessions with the TPS, their latencies were reduced to half! I had assumed that we would get effects of two, maybe five per cent at most. Instead, it was 50 per cent! And this patient went on to make further progress with TPS: six weeks later we examined her again and she had improved by another 20 per cent. And even if you take into account that there are certain learning effects when you repeat such tests, then in Alzheimer’s disease, to put it casually, it’s just super.”

AS: “What chances do you give Transcranial Pulse Stimulation for the future?”

US: “With increasing patient numbers and increasing positive research results, I assume that the application of TPS will increase intensively in the next few years. I see this especially under the aspect of the good effect and the extremely low side effects, such as very occasional mild headaches, which disappear again after a short time. There are also drug-based antibodies that are currently in trials and that can achieve quite good results, but there the side effect burden is just very high.”

AS: “TPS can also be used for other indications such as Parkinson’s disease, condition after stroke or also for long covid and neuro covid. These treatments are currently still so-called “off-label-use” therapies, which means that they take place according to the individual decision of the treating physician. What is your position on this?”

US: “All these diseases can definitely be treated with TPS. We are also already conducting curative trials in other areas – with corresponding success. I will report on this in more detail in due course.”

AS: “Prof. Sprick, thank you very much for this interview.”