Wearables, wearables, wearables – new devices keep popping out every day and they also expand to such areas as medicine. One interesting such gizmo is Cefaly, a portable headband which is allegedly able to prevent migraine headaches. This high-tech electronic headband has been released for a few months but only now had it received the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approval. The manufacturer has not yet set a price tag for the US, but it is available for $350 in Canada. Here’s a more detailed explanation of how Cefaly works:
Muscle cells and Nerve cells are the only two types of cells that respond well to electrical stimulus: Cefaly was designed to work specifically on nerve cells affected by pain. Cefaly works by introducing safe, and painless electric impulses to act on the very nerves that transmit migraine pain, a bifurcation of nerves known as the trigeminal nerve. Often referred to as “the great sensory nerve of the head and neck”, the trigeminal nerve is an Endorphin-producing mechanism that carries information about touch, temperature, perception and pain from the face and scalp to the brainstem.
The device is allegedly able to prevent migraine headaches by directing an electric current to the skin and the body tissues beneath in order to stimulate the trigeminal nerve. Cefaly sits over the ears and across the forehead, relies on a battery and can be used by prescription only for no more than 20 minutes a day. The FDA approved Cefaly because clinical trial in Belgium (where the Cefaly company is based) have proven the medical gadget to have positive effects on those who have tested it. Dr. Myrna Cardiel, a clinical associate professor of neurology at NYU Langone Medical Center and NYU School of Medicine, said the following:
This device is a promising step forward in treating migraine headaches, as it addresses an important part of what we believe triggers and maintains a migraine attack. The 53 percent positive rating is on par with most oral migraine preventive medications.
Cefaly Technology also conducted a study of more than 2,300 users in Belgium and France and found out that 53 percent have been satisfied enough to buy one. However, some users complained of sleepiness and headaches during the treatments. I guess the perfect scenario would be for Cefaly to allow patients to try out the device free of charge for a few days too see if there are no side effects. That way, they will make sure that only satisfied users get to buy it.