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Imagine having the worst headache of your life several times a day for months. That is what it's like for many people who suffer from cluster headaches. Now a cutting edge device is getting people back on their feet.
Heather Prattas is a busy, active mom of two young daughters but Prattas, suffers from cluster headaches.
She says, "I bike and boot camp and paddle board."
But something stopped heather in her tracks: cluster headaches.
Prattas explains, "They actually call them suicide headaches because you become suicidal during the headache."
Dr. Teshamae Monteith, Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, Chief of the Headache Division, Uhealth Dept. of Neurology, University of Miami Health System says cluster headache can affect both men and women. It strikes one side of the head and can occur several times a day for months called a cluster bout.
Dr. Monteith continues, "An individual attack can last up to three hours but then it can occur multiple times a day."
Because there has been little research into the cause, there are few treatments. Prattas has been on ten different medications; oxygen was the only thing that worked.
Prattas adds, "A tank will last me 2 or 3 headaches."
Now there may be something better.
Dr. Monteith explains, "The gammacore is a non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator."
It works by stimulating the vagus nerve and blocking pain signals that cause cluster attacks.
Dr. Monteith continues, "So the idea of stimulating the nerve to disrupt the pain signal is a way of potentially helping patients."
Patients can control the level of stimulation. They apply it to the neck for up to two minutes. Prattas hopes the little device will help.
She says, "That would be a godsend."
Relieving the pain so she can get back to what's really important. The majority of patients enrolled in clinical trials reported getting relief within 15 minutes of using the gammacore device.
It has been approved by the FDA for cluster headaches, and recently migraines.
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