Dr. Yousef Mohammad, a neurologist and principal investigator of the study at Ohio State's Medical Center in Columbus, said the non-invasive transcranial magnetic stimulator, or TMS, interrupts the aura phase of the migraine, often described as electrical storms in the brain, before it leads to headaches.
Migraine sufferers often describe "seeing" showers of shooting stars, zigzagging lines and flashing lights, and experiencing loss of vision, weakness, tingling or confusion, followed by intense throbbing head pain, nausea and vomiting.
Previous studies, conducted at Ohio State, using a heavy and bulky TMS device, reduced headache pain. To expedite treatment at home, a portable hand-held device was developed and tested.
"The device's pulses are painless and safe," Mohammad said in a statement. "Since almost all migraine drugs have some side effects, and patients are prone to addiction from narcotics, or developing headaches from frequent use of over-the-counter medication, the TMS device holds great promise for migraine sufferers."
The findings are scheduled to be presented Friday at the annual American Headache Society meeting in Boston.