NHS England Rolls Out Gadget for Zapping Away Cluster Headache Pain

Those who frequently suffer from headaches know how unbearable they can be. From migraines to tension pain, headaches can significantly limit our ability to carry out our daily routines. Cluster headaches are particularly relentless. This rare type of piercing pain can last between 15 minutes and three hours, occurring as much as eight times a day. In the UK, cluster headaches affect around 11,000 people, which is why the NHS decided to come up with a solution. Following successful trials, the British healthcare system recently rolled out a handheld device called gammaCore Sapphire that can be used to instantly alleviate cluster headaches.

GammaCore uses non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation to soothe pain without drugs. When a user feels a headache coming on, they can simply hold the small device up to their neck and adjust the intensity of the stimulation. Electrical signals disrupt pain signals that run through a vital nerve in the area. Users will likely feel muscle contractions that pull their lip downwards, but this is no cause for alarm. These muscle contractions indicate that the device is positioned correctly, and their headache will diminish within minutes.

The roll-out of the gammaCore device is supported by the Medtech Funding Mandate, which fast-tracks innovations in the NHS. This mandate is part of the NHS Long Term Plan which came into effect on April 1, 2021. One of the plan’s primary focuses is to explore how affordable technology will allow the NHS to save money while still providing the right care. GammaCore is a prime example of this, as it allows patients to treat themselves easily at home. Additionally, it’s particularly beneficial for one in 20 sufferers who do not respond to more traditional treatment methods such as painkillers.

“While they may be small, these devices will make a huge difference to people who suffer from these debilitating headaches—relieving painful symptoms and allow people to go about their daily lives as normal,” said NHS Medical Director Stephen Powis in a statement. “The NHS Long Term Plan committed to making cutting edge treatments and technology available to save and improve lives.” He adds, “This is the latest example of the NHS testing the latest tech and rolling it out at speed for patients across the country.”

NHS England and NHS Improvement: Website | Twitter | YouTube
GammaCore: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube
h/t: [IFL Science!]

All images via gammaCore.

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Emma Taggart

Emma Taggart is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Originally from Northern Ireland, she is an artist now based in Berlin. After graduating with a BA in Fashion and Textile Design in 2013, Emma decided to combine her love of art with her passion for writing. Emma has contributed to various art and culture publications, with an aim to promote and share the work of inspiring modern creatives. While she writes every day, she’s also devoted to her own creative outlet—Emma hand-draws illustrations and is currently learning 2D animation.
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