Research shows positive impact of neurostimulation device on migraines

Trials reveal success of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation among migraine sufferers

Clinical trials have found the Spring Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation solution to be effective in treating migraine

Migraine sufferers have been thrown a lifeline after clinical trials revealed the success of a new handheld magnetic stimulation device.

Experts at the European Headache and Migraine Trust International Congress in London recently discussed the results of research into the Spring Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) solution, a portable handheld device that delivers a brief magnetic pulse to the back of the head to treat migraine attacks.

Studies show 73% of migraine sufferers who were prescribed the device by headache specialists reported a reduction or alleviation of pain.

For the many migraine sufferers whose medicines just don’t do the job, it is exciting to see such an innovative, novel approach to treatment that provides new optimism

The technology is expected to be especially suitable for patients who suffer regular attacks, but find that current medication does not work, produces major side effects , or is unsafe due to existing medical conditions.

The trials, carried out in London, Hull, Bath, Exeter, Liverpool and Aberdeen also showed that migraine symptoms improved in 63% of patients, and for some did not develop at all. The number of headache days also declined for 53% of those involved.

The results represent the first to report clinical results using this approach for patients who suffer migraine with and without aura, with symptoms affecting eyesight, speech and hearing, or numbness, weakness, dizziness, vertigo or memory changes.

During the trials, patients reported no intolerance or side effects linked to the device, which is manufactured by US-based eNeura Therapeutics.

Yasmin Bibi, one of the patients who took part in the latest trial, said: “I have suffered from migraine for nine years and tried a lot of medicines and saw different consultants to no avail. I could be completely debilitated for a while week, needed time off work, and was at my wit’s end. Now the device helps me to cope.”

We think neurostimulation is the future in treating headache disorders, particularly if it is non-evasive

Fellow patient, Andy Bloor, added: “I suffer from chronic migraines. Put simply, for me the TMS device worked. The key for me was using it quickly, as soon as the migraine started. When I did, often the first use and always on subsequent uses it stopped the migraine in it tracks. The plus of the device is it reduces my reliance on strong drugs like cocodomol.”

And Sally Cleary said: “I have suffered chronically with rare hemiplegic migraine, which causes a myriad of disabling symptoms including auras, weakness, slurred speech and problems with reasoning and following what people are saying. The device gives me a sense of control and I can be walking well by lunchtime. I won’t let my neurological problems devastate my life and the TMS is part of my plan for a crystal clear future.”

TMS is based on the principles of induction, rapidly-changing magnetic fields that induce electrical currents. When it is applied to the back of the head, a magnetic field of very short duration passes through the skull and tissue non-invasively and without discomfort. The magnetic field induces very mild electrical currents in the brain tissue to excite and depolarise neurons in the brain. This process is thought to interrupt the abnormal electrical activity associated with migraine and cortical spreading depression (CSD).

Professor Peter Goadsby, joint chairman of the congress and a consultant neurologist, said of the technology: “For the many migraine sufferers whose medicines just don’t do the job, it is exciting to see such an innovative, novel approach to treatment that provides new optimism.”

And Hull-based Dr Fayyaz Ahmed, a neurologist who chairs the British Association for the Study of Headache, told BBH : “We think neurostimulation is the future in treating headache disorders, particularly if it is non-evasive. A significant proportion of migraine sufferers either do not respond or are unable to tolerate available oral treatments. Now TMS will provide them with an alternative to deal with their disabling migraines and be able to continue with their activities and daily living.”

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