The headband is designed to help prevent migraines before they develop into acute blinding pain

A small Belgium-based company called Cefaly Technology has invented a quick fix for those who suffer from chronic headaches and migraines as an alternative to medication.

The revolutionary product comes in the form of a battery-powered headband fitted with an electrode that sends an electrical signal through the skin to the trigeminal nerve, which plays a role in many migraines. By stimulating the nerve, the device was shown to help prevent migraines in a clinical test of 67 people who previously had at least 2 migraine attacks per month. The participants wore the device for 20 minutes a day for 3 months and recorded that they took significantly less migraine medication than those who received a placebo device. A satisfaction survey of more than 2000 people in Belgium and France also showed that 53% of patients said they were happy with the headband and that they would buy one for continued use.

The device, which has already hit the European market, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in March and will be the first device of its kind to be sold in the US. The headband sells for $349.99 on its website and requires a prescription before purchasing.


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The headband is designed to help prevent migraines before they develop into acute blinding pain, not treat them once they have already appeared. The idea behind the device is to reduce a patient’s need for medication and minimize the risk of building up tolerance to drugs. “Cefaly provides an alternative to medication for migraine prevention,” said Christy Foreman, director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. She added, “This may help patients who cannot tolerate current migraine medications for preventing migraines or treating attacks.”

According to the World Health Organization, migraine is one of the top 20 causes of disability in adults in terms of healthy life lost, and between 1.7% and 4% of the adult population has a headache or migraine for at least 15 or more days a month. “People who really suffer with migraine are frequently in the emergency room, because they don’t have something that sort of consistently helps,” said neurologist Dr. Andrea Synowiec. “and for those people, I anticipate this is something they’re very excited about.”

While the technology is a breakthrough, CEO of Cefaly Technology Dr. Pierre Rigaux said that his team of researchers are continually looking to improve the device. “Cefaly is a real help, but not all patients are responders,” Rigaux said, “so clinical trials are underway to improve protocol and efficacy.”

Reference

  1. Bermudez B. Migraine headband makers not done looking for cure. Tech Page One website. April 2, 2014. http://techpageone.dell.com/downtime/gadgets/migraine-headband-makers-done-looking-cure/#.U0L4plfLL5k.
  2. Cefaly website. http://www.cefaly.com.
  3. Hensley S. Electronic headband prevents migraines with tiny jolts. NPR website. March 13, 2014. http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/03/13/289787263/electronic-headband-prevents-migraines-with-tiny-jolts.
  4. Rodriguez E. FDA approves nerve-stimulating headband to treat migraines. CBS Miami website. April 1, 2014. http://miami.cbslocal.com/2014/04/01/fda-approves-nerve-stimulating-headband-to-treat-migraines.
  5. Headache disorders. World Health Organization website. October 2012. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs277/en.