A small portable tDCS device would be safe, effective and easy to use, according to Dr. Marom Bikson, associate professor of biomedical engineering at CCNY. “We developed this technology and methodology in order to get the currents deep into the brain,” said Bikson. “You can walk around with it and keep it in your desk drawer or purse. This is definitely the first technology that operates on just a 9-volt battery and can be applied at home.”
Bikson foresees tDCS units as tiny as an iPod that patients can use every day to ward off attacks. A consumer-ready portable tDCS device is still years away, since large clinical trials would be needed.
In a pilot study conducted by Bikson, repeated tDCS sessions reduced the duration and pain intensity of migraine attacks by about 37 percent. Increasing improvements were noted after four weeks of treatment and the positive effects lasted for months. A mild tingling sensation during the electrical brain stimulation treatment was the only side effect.
“There’s something about migraine pain that’s particularly distressing,” said Bikson. “If it’s possible to help some people get just 30 percent better, that’s a very meaningful improvement in quality of life.”
Bikson says tDCS seems to reverse changes in the brain caused by repeated migraine attacks, including greater sensitivity to headaches triggers. He believes a patient could use a portable TDCS system every day to ward off attacks.