According to an article from Medical News Today, researchers at The City College of the City University of New York (CCNY) have developed brain stimulation technology that can prevent migraine attacks from occurring.
The technique uses transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), to apply a mild electrical current to the brain via electrodes attached to the scalp.
Dr. Marom Bikson, associate professor of biomedical engineering in CCNY’s Grove School of Engineering, explained: “We developed this technology and methodology in order to get the currents deep into the brain.” The aim was to reach the regions of the brain involved in perceiving and regulating pain.
With colleagues including Dr. Alexandre DaSilva from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and Dr. Felipe Fregni from Harvard Medical School, Professor Bikson demonstrated the technology’s apparent ability to reverse established changes in the brain that have been caused by chronic migraine, such as an increased sensitivity to certain headache triggers.
After repeated treatment sessions, both the duration of attacks and pain intensity of migraines were reduced, with improvements accumulating over four weeks of treatment and lasting for months in pilot studies. The only side effect reported by the trial subjects was a mild tingling sensation during the treatment.
Professor Bikson expects commercial units to be developed to around the size of an iPod, and predicts that patients will be able to use the system either daily or periodically, as a ‘booster’ when needed to ward off attacks. “You can walk around with it and keep it in your desk drawer or purse. This is definitely the first technology that operates on just a 9-volt battery and can be applied at home,” he commented.