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Migraine device promises medication-free relief

Health Canada has given the go-ahead to a high-tech device that promises relief to those who suffer from migraine headaches.

The Cefaly device is designed to be worn on a patient’s forehead, delivering controlled electrical impulses for 20-minute sessions.

"Basically it’s a product designed to reduce or treat the pain associated with migraines, without the use of narcotics," said Derrek Shaw of Roxon Medi-Tech, the Canadian distibutor of Cefaly.

Cefaly is said to stimulate the trigeminal nerve – which branches across the head. Studies have shown that inflammation in this pathway can cause migraine pain.

"You’re immediately alleviating the pain that’s associated with migraine headache, but you’re also releasing endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals in your brain," Shaw said.

The device was designed by a Belgian doctor and has recently been approved by Health Canada as a non-invasive medical device, providing another option for chronic migraine sufferers.

"When you get a migraine, you basically become … you cannot work, you cannot function," said 47-year-old Benoit Drolet, who experiences migraine headaches approximately once a week. Drolet normally requires high doses of medication just to be able to function.

Drolet is one of two Edmontonians who have agreed to work with Global Edmonton to test the device.

"I’m not expecting a miracle but if it can lower the frequency I’d say that’d be a huge boost, a huge deal for me," Drolet said.

Roxon Medi-Tech has provided a Cefaly for Drolet and for 38-year-old Kerri Trendel, who gets migraine headaches every few months.

"The nausea and the sensitivity to light and stuff, that’s really bad for me," Trendel said. "I usually wear my sunglasses inside and outside for a day or two after, shut the drapes and keep the light low in the house."

Trendel and Drolet will make use of the Cefaly device the next time they experience a migraine headache.

Stay tuned to Health Matters on the News Hours for a follow up report in the weeks to come.

With files from Su-Ling Goh.

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