Mobile Application Helps Teens Track Migraine Pain

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The use of a mobile phone headache diary application by adolescents suffering with migraines can provide richer and more accurate information about migraine duration and intensity. Previous studies have suggested the use of an electronic diary can help with compliance, accuracy, and acceptability compared to traditional paper diaries. Results of the mobile phone application study are among many timely research findings concerning headache, migraine, and brain injuries on the four-day agenda at the 54th Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Headache Society which runs through Sunday morning, June 24.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, nearly 10% of 17-year old girls and 4% of boys in the U.S. suffer with migraine and there is evidence that migraine and its accompanying pain and symptoms are often unreported by kids and unrecognized by parents and teachers.

“This study was designed to determine if an electronic headache diary accessed via an application on an iPod Touch device would help teens monitor and report headache severity, characteristics, and duration. Additionally, information about disability, mood, stress, and functioning and adherence to medication regimens and healthy lifestyle behaviors is captured,” said Brandon S. Aylward, PhD, of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, co-principal investigator of the study.

“We found that teens using the app iMigraine, an iOS® application, were able to effectively monitor and assess their pain and functioning on a fixed-based interval for 45 consecutive days using an iPod Touch®,” he said. “Data were sent over a wireless internet connection to a data management center to allow for real-time review of symptoms and behaviors.”

“We believe this approach is a useful aid in the development and implementation of effective and sustainable interventions for adolescents with migraine,” he said. The team also included Stephanie M. Sullivan, BS, John W. Kroner, BA, Marielle A. Kabbouche, MD, Hope O'Brien, MD, Joanne Kacperski, MD, Andrew D. Hershey, MD, PhD, and Scott W. Powers, PhD. The study was made possible with a grant from the Migraine Research Foundation awarded to Aylward and Powers (Principal Investigators).

Some 500 of the world’s most eminent migraine and headache specialists are expected to attend. This year’s theme, “Planting the Seed for Future Headache Research” will spotlight other areas of current basic and clinical research such as the role of the cortex in migraine, the role of imaging in patients with headache, the latest breaking science emerging from the nation’s leading scientific laboratories in migraine research, and controversial issues in the diagnosis and management of complex headache disorders.

Migraine is one of the most ancient and mysterious of diseases with many myths and folklores attached to its diagnosis and treatment. Over the last 5,000 years, migraine sufferers subjected themselves to an array of extreme and bizarre treatments to find relief, Dr. Dodick noted. These have included drilling a hole in the skull to let out the “bad humours,” bloodletting, sorcery, binding a clay crocodile to the head, and inserting the bones of a vulture into the nose.

Some 36 million Americans suffer from migraine, more than have asthma or diabetes combined. An additional 6 million suffer from chronic migraine, where patients experience at least 15 headache days per month along with other disabling neurological symptoms. Migraine can be extremely disabling and costly - accounting for more than $20 billion each year in the United States. Costs are attributed to direct medical expenses (e.g. doctor visits, medications) and indirect expenses (e.g. missed work, lost productivity).

About The American Headache Society

The American Headache Society (AHS) is a professional society of health care providers dedicated to the study and treatment of headache and face pain. The Society's objectives are to promote the exchange of information and ideas concerning the causes and treatments of headache and related painful disorders. Educating physicians, health professionals and the public and encouraging scientific research are the primary functions of this organization. AHS activities include an annual scientific meeting, a comprehensive headache symposium, regional symposia for neurologists and family practice physicians, publication of the journal Headache and sponsorship of the AHS Committee for Headache Education (ACHE).

About The American Migraine Foundation

The American Migraine Foundation is a non-profit foundation supported by the American Headache Society and generous donors dedicated to the advancement of migraine research. The mission of this newly formed foundation is to support innovative research that will lead to improvement in the lives of those who suffer from migraine and other disabling headaches.

Contact Information

Dennis Tartaglia,, 732-545-1848
Joyce Yaeger,, 212-539-3238, 917-783-6105