Adult migraines affect more than 10% of the population, with women three times more likely to experience their burdening effects than men (NINDS, 2012). Most professionals believe that migraines cannot be "cured" since the exact pathophysiology is unknown. However, experts have been very successful in using biofeedback to treat migraines. In many cases eight sessions can result in no more migraines.
Biofeedback treatment for migraines and other headaches works to reduce the frequency, intensity and duration of migraines and has been known to be helpful for several decades. The treatment sessions include electromyography (EMG) training, relaxation therapy, cognitive-behavior therapy and combined emg/relaxation therapy. The latest treatment consists of using both heart rate variability training and hemoencephalography (HEG) biofeedback.
Hemoencephalography (HEG) is a new type of biofeedback treatment in which the patient learns to train the frontal lobe cerebral blood flow. The patient is instructed to watch any movie while an infrared camera reads the temperature of the blood flow of the frontal lobe beneath the skull. If the patient keeps the temperature above the threshold level, the movie continues to play. If the temperature of the frontal lobe drops, then the movie stops. By focusing on a bar graph, the patient can bring up the temperature and the movie continues. This biofeedback system was originally designed for migraine headache treatment, and has shown promising results. In 2004, Carmen took 100 migraine patients who had been through many previous treatments, including many trying several medications, with little success. Positive results were usually seen in 6 HEG sessions, and over 90 percent of the patients reported significant positive results, according to their own report. Although much more research needs to be done with this method, such dramatic results are promising.
At the Brain Clinic, we offer comprehensive treatment for those with migraines and headaches. Biofeedback, cognitive behavior therapy, and relaxation techniques are combined to provide medication-free treatment.
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