An unexpected source could provide migraine relief, according to new research findings released last week. Researchers explored the effects of an innovative sound therapy called HIRREM, or high-resolution, relational, resonance-based, electroencephalic mirroring. Specifically, they noted that the non-invasive neurotechnology not only helped lower blood pressure and improve the heart rate of participants, but preliminary results also showed an overall improvement in symptoms associated with migraine, including head pain. The study was presented during the American Heart Association’s Council on Hypertension 2016 Scientific Sessions.
At its core, HIRREM is designed to assess and correct electrical imbalances in the brain. It accomplishes this by translating “dominant brain frequencies into computer-generated audible tones that are reflected back simultaneously via ear buds,” according to the study’s authors. In the specific case of migraine, the exploratory study tracked the progress of 52 patients with the condition who received an average of 16 sessions over the course of nine in-office days. In addition to head pain, researchers also saw overall improvements in participants’ sleep and mood. You can read the full abstract (P602), beginning on page 301 here.
What it means
More data is needed to validate the early findings offered in this study, and the AHA acknowledges that it represents a broader research effort to ascertain more solid conclusions related to HIRREM’s effectiveness. Some larger questions we have include: To what extent does this therapy help mitigate or prevent migraine symptoms? Will future studies look at the longitudinal benefits or lack thereof (patient experiences were only recorded for up to two weeks after treatment)? Were there any commonalities across the participants (other than their self diagnosis) in terms of migraine types, symptoms, and/or intensity? These questions aside, the results are intriguing, which will make future examinations of the technology very interesting for us and all those within the migraine community.
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