Migraine pain sits at the upper end of the typical pain scale an angry-red section often labeled "severe." At this intensity, pain is debilitating. Yet many sufferers do not get relief from or cannot tolerate over-the-counter and commonly prescribed pain medications.
Recently, a team of researchers that includes Dr. Marom Bikson, associate professor of biomedical engineering in CCNY's Grove School of Engineering, has shown that a brain stimulation technology can prevent migraine attacks from occurring. Their technique, using transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), applies a mild electrical current to the brain from electrodes attached to the scalp.
"We developed this technology and methodology in order to get the currents deep into the brain," said Bikson. The researchers aimed to tap into the so-called pain network, among other areas, a collection of interconnected brain regions involved in perceiving and regulating pain.
Professor Bikson and his colleagues, including Dr. Alexandre DaSilva at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and Dr. Felipe Fregni at Harvard Medical School, found that the technology seems to reverse ingrained changes in the brain caused by chronic migraine, such as greater sensitivity to headache triggers.
Repeated sessions reduced the duration of attacks and decreased the pain intensity of migraines that did occur on average about 37 percent. The improvements accumulated over four weeks of treatment and they persisted.
In pilot studies, the effects lasted for months. The only side effect subjects reported was a mild tingling sensation during treatment. Professor Bikson expects that a patient could use the system every day to ward off attacks, or periodically, like a booster.
The team's computational models show that tDCS delivers therapeutic current along the pain network through both upper (cortical) and deep brain structures. They will publish their results in the
|Contact: Jessa Netting|
City College of New York