The scourge of migraine headaches in the United States is relentless. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, more than 12% of all Americans suffer migraines, including children, women, and men. Approximately one quarter of all U.S. households include a migraine sufferer. Migraines are a chronic disease for many and cause significant loss of productivity since most people cannot work during the typical 4 to 72 hour migraine attack. Treating migraines is difficult and there is relatively little research being carried on for solutions to prevent or cure migraine headaches.
Cefaly Technology‘s eponymous Cefaly is a headband for migraine sufferers. Cefaly users report satisfaction with the device 71% of the time and 75% report reduction in medication, according to the manufacturer. The headband is worn positioned with its center on the middle of the forehead, to which it is held by an adhesive electrode. The electrode produces micro-impulses which act on the nerve endings of the trigeminal nerve to prevent migraine attacks. Repeated impulses on the trigeminal nerve have a sedative effect that with regular use lessens the frequency of attacks. The electrodes are reusable up to 20 times and replacements are sold in sets of three for $25. When a patient uses the Cefaly it is placed on the forehead and then both power and impulse intensity are adjusted via a single button. Each daily session lasts 20 minutes and in time the patient should try to increase the intensity of the pulses for greater results. The device is powered by two good quality AAA alkaline batteries, which should last for a month of daily sessions. Cefaly requires a prescription and costs $349.
Unlike implanted neurostimulation devices that require surgery for the implanting, the Cefaly headband is not invasive. Training patients to use Cefaly as a preventative treatment for migraines has the potential to put the patients in control of what otherwise can be a chronic, painful, debilitating condition.