Portable Migraine Relief Technology

Doctor showing patient how to use Gamma Core device.

March 15, 2019

Push through the pain. For chronic migraine sufferers, the mantra is all too familiar. Traci Richardson has been pushing through since she was a teenager, trying a variety of preventive medications and therapies, but still dealing with frequent headaches. Be it age, stress, parenthood or ever-changing Midwest weather, Traci's migraines have become progressively worse – and for this nurse and mother of three, shutting down isn't an option.

"I work full-time and have three kids in sports," says Traci. "Activities can't take a back seat every time I have a migraine. I usually push through, but not everyone can do that."

Like many patients, Traci doesn't tolerate the side effects of the medications frequently prescribed to end migraine and cluster headaches just after they begin. She began Botox® injections as a preventive migraine treatment, and they have provided benefits. But recently, when she experienced a migraine despite preventive treatments, Traci took advantage of a treatment innovation called gammaCore™.

Pain relief without pills

The gammaCore device in a noninvasive vagus nerve stimulator that gives patients an alternative to pills. Roughly the size of a smartphone, gammaCore is extremely portable. At the first sign of migraine, Traci applies a small amount of gel to her neck, then holds the device there for 2 minutes to stimulate the vagus nerve. If her headache remains 20 minutes later, she can repeat the treatment for another 2 minutes, and once more 2 hours later if the migraine hasn't fully subsided. 

We're excited about the gammaCore technology. It is not a painful procedure, and it's not a medication that will make you tired or nauseated or experience other common side effects."

 Deetra Ford, MD
gammaCore treatment has been studied on people who have an average of 3-8 migraines per month. It can be used alone or in combination with other treatments.

"Traci doesn't tolerate medications well, which is common for many people," says Dr. Ford. "gammaCore is a great alternative for her. It also doesn't lead to rebound headaches the way medications sometimes can."

"The first time I tried gammaCore, it didn't help my migraine much, but the second time, it knocked it out," says Traci. "Often I'd have a migraine last for a whole week, but it was gone in a couple of hours after using the device. And I haven't needed to use it since."
Man with a headache

Compete, personalized care

Our migraine specialists offer a complete spectrum of personalized care. Treatment options include:
  • Medications
  • Botox injections
  • Vagus nerve stimulation
  • Diet and lifestyle counsel
Our collaborative team assists each patient in all aspects of health that help reduce migraines.

Offering speed and ease of use

The convenience and immediacy of the gammaCore are huge selling points for people on the go. As portable as an iPhone, it slips easily into a purse or computer bag to be used anytime, anywhere, at the first sign of a migraine.

"If you're a person who doesn't like medications or suffer from the side effects they cause, it's a perfect option and very simple to use," says Traci. "It can definitely improve the quality of life for those living with chronic migraines."

"Traci has draining migraines, and gammaCore allows her to work through her day with less pain," adds Dr. Ford. "But each person needs to have an individual discussion with their physician to see if it's right for them. We are committed to creating individualized treatment plans for every migraine patient we see."

Though it is FDA-approved, gammaCore is a relatively new migraine treatment and few providers have begun using the device. The University of Kansas Health System is among early providers of this innovative option for migraine patients. The gammaCore device is FDA-approved for adults 18 years and older and requires a prescription. It cannot be used for patients who have a pacemaker, hearing aid implant or any other implanted electronic or medical device. Those who are pregnant or have significantly high or low blood pressure or heart rate cannot use the gammaCore. And you don't want to use the device with your cell phone on your person or in your pocket.

"Even though I'm a nurse, I'm a horrible patient and don't like to take medication," says Traci. "The Botox injections plus the gammaCore device have really made a difference for me."

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