Approximately 100 million people in the US experience headaches. Nearly 37 million people suffer from migraine headaches and migraines are three times more frequent in women than in men. While migraines can occur in people over a wide range of ages, it is most common in those between the ages of 30 to 39 years. Migraine is the third most prevalent and sixth most disabling disease in the world.
Migraine headaches are considered a disease of the brain often triggered by the hyper- excitability of several cranial nerves stemming from the trigeminal and occipital branches. Migraines represent a recurring disease state that manifests with a cascade of symptoms over the course of several hours to several days. A prodromal phase occurs in more than 75% of patients with symptoms including yawning, depression and neck stiffness. Approximately 25% of migraines are associated with an aura, a collection of one or more neurologic symptoms, including; visual (bright lines, shapes or objects), auditory (ringing in ears), somatosensory (burning, pain), or motor (jerking, repetitive movements).
Treatments for migraines include pharmacologic therapies with over-the- counter medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Many prescription medications are used including triptans, antiepileptic’s, SSRI’s and/or tricyclic anti- depressants, beta-blockers and others. Opioid and barbiturate medications are also used, often with disastrous, addictive consequences. Emphasis should be given to the fact that most of these medications are notoriously non-efficacious and to the fact that most the Migraine headache patients will end up being prescribed opioids and eventually become depended and or addicted to these medications.
For patients, whose migraines do not respond to pharmacologic treatment, the surgical implantation of neurostimulating electrodes for bilateral supraorbital and occipital stimulation can be highly effective. Dr. Skaribas’ experience in his pain management practice is that implanting these neurostimulating electrodes effectively treats the pain in 80-90% of patients with intractable migraine headaches. Dr. Skaribas further realized that this was a treatment beyond the reach of many patients due to the invasiveness of the procedure in addition to the high cost. Dr. Skaribas invented the enabling technology, produced the prototype device and licensed the intellectual property to Brazos Biomedical. Dr. Skaribas continues to provide his expertise in the development of the Auracis™ device by serving as the Company’s Medical Science Advisor.
For more information on migraines:
www.webmd.com, www.migraine.com, www.migraineresearchfoundation.org, www.americanmigrainefoundation.org