Electronic TMS Device Zaps Migraine
Jun 23, 2006 - 12:51:37 AM

Results of a study found that the experimental device appears to be effective in eliminating the headache when administered during the onset of the migraine. The device, called TMS, interrupts the aura phase of the migraine, often described as electrical storms in the brain, before they lead to headaches. Auras are neural disturbances that signal the onset of migraine headaches. People who suffer from migraine headaches often describe “seeing” showers of shooting stars, zigzagging lines and flashing lights, and experiencing loss of vision, weakness, tingling or confusion. What typically follows these initial symptoms is intense throbbing head pain, nausea and vomiting.

Yousef Mohammad, a neurologist at OSU Medical Center who presented the results, says that the patients in this study reported a significant reduction in nausea, noise and light sensitivity post treatment.

"Work functioning also improved, and there were no side effects reported,” Mohammad said.
Yousef Mohammad

This magnetic pulse, when held against a person's head, creates an electric current in the neurons of the brain, interrupting the aura before it results in a throbbing headache.

“The device's pulses are painless. “In our study sample, 69 percent of the TMS-related headaches reported to have either no or mild pain at the two-hour post-treatment point compared to 48 percent of the placebo group. In addition, 42 percent of the TMS-treated patients graded their headache response, without symptoms, as very good or excellent compared to 26 percent for the placebo group. These are very encouraging results.”

It was previously believed that migraine headaches start with vascular constriction, which results in an aura, followed by vascular dilation that will lead to a throbbing headache. This new understanding of the migraine mechanism has assisted with the development of the TMS device.

More than 26 million Americans suffer from the neurologic disorder of migraine, according to the American Medical Association. No medical test exists for migraine, so the diagnosis is based on having some or all of the following symptoms: a moderate to severe throbbing pain for four to 72 hours that is frequently on one side of the head (the word migraine comes from the Greek hemicranios, meaning half a head), nausea, with or without vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound.

According to FDA website, about 15 to 20 percent of migraine sufferers experience visual and other disturbances about 15 minutes before the head pain. These symptoms, collectively known as "aura," may include flashing lights, zig-zag lines, bright spots, loss of part of one's field of vision, or numbness or tingling in the hand, tongue, or side of the face. Migraines preceded by an aura are called classic migraines; all others are referred to as common migraines. According to news reports, the Broncos' Davis experienced an aura during the Super Bowl, allowing him to get early treatment to prevent a full-blown migraine.

Migraines strike some people about two or three times a year and others as frequently as twice a week or more. They appear to have a genetic link. According to the American Council for Headache Education, up to 90 percent of people with migraine have a family history of the condition.

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