Science 3 min read

Relaxation Apps on Smartphone Can Help Manage Migraine

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Maridav /

Researchers at NYU School of Medicine have developed a new relaxation app to help manage migraine.

Migraine is the third most prevalent illness in the world. In the United States, about 1.2 million visits to the hospital are for acute migraine attacks.

Not only is the illness painful and disabling, with recurring symptoms, but it has no known cause, treatment, or cure. With that said, migraines can be managed through drugs and therapy.

However, both forms of treatments come with limitations.

According to neurologist Mia Minen, MD, MPH:

“Clinicians need to rethink their treatment approach to migraine because many of the accepted therapies, although proven to be the current, best course of treatment, aren’t working for all lifestyles.”

That’s why she partnered with Boston-based Irody Inc. to design and develop a relaxation app. They’re calling it RELAXaHEAD.

How to Manage Migraine From Your Phone

The researchers developed RELAXaHEAD to guide patients through Progressive Muscle Relaxation – a form of behavioral therapy designed to reduce stress. It typically involves the alternate tensing and relaxation of specific muscle groups.

51 confirmed migraine patients were invited to the NYU Langone Health to analyze the app. Then, the researchers asked the participants to install and use the app for 90 days.

The app recorded its usage time, while patients had to keep a daily record of the severity and frequency of their headache.

According to the researchers, participants that used the smartphone-based relaxation technique at least twice a week experienced on average four fewer headache days per month.

Before the treatment, the participants reported having an average of 13 headache days per month. Also, 30 percent of the patients in the study had depression, while another 39 percent reported having anxiety.

After six weeks of PMR therapy using RELAXaHEAD, about half of the participants stopped the treatment. Three months later, the number reduced to 29 percent.

The study authors anticipated this gradual decrease in the use of the app. Now they’re trying to figure out ways to encourage frequent sessions as well as how to introduce the app to clinical practice.

Minen, who is also an assistant professor of population health and chief of headache research at NYU Langone Health, said:

“Our study offers evidence that patients may pursue behavioral therapy if it is easily accessible, they can do it on their own time, and it is affordable.”

Thanks to development in smartphone technologies, patients can now effectively manage their migraines on their own. The researchers are yet to make RELAXaHEAD available to the public.

Read More: Promising New Drug for Migraine Passes Third Clinical Trials

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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