Researchers from the NYU School of Medicine have developed an app known as RELAXaHEAD, to help relax the muscles, ease stress and reduce the chances of developing a migraine. Here, we’ll look at what the smartphone app does, and how it can help to reduce migraines for patients.
Research shows RELAXaHEAD reduces frequency of migraines
The RELAXaHEAD app was developed as a guide for users at the NYU Langone Health. It uses Progressive Muscle Relaxation guidance to help patients learn how to relax and ease stress within the muscles.
Initial results showed that the app helped migraine sufferers reduce the number of migraines they suffered by four within a monthly period. This meant they averaged nine migraines within a month, compared to 13 migraines suffered each month before using the app.
The app was used by 51 patients, and they were required to use it for 90 days. They also had to keep a daily diary of the severity and frequency of their migraines. The app tracks the frequency and length of time patients use Progressive Muscle Relaxation.
Interesting link between migraine and depression discovered
One interesting finding of the study was that those who experienced depression were less likely to keep up with the daily migraine diary. Reversely, those who suffered with high anxiety levels were more likely to use the diary method.
This suggests that those suffering with depression were less likely to be able to control their migraines. Keeping a daily migraine diary helps patients to identify triggers which could be contributing to their migraines. Without understanding these triggers, it’s difficult to know how to avoid them.
Could behavioural treatments prove most effective?
The study into the RELAXaHEAD app shows how effective behavioural therapy can be in the treatment of migraines. By learning how to lower stress within the muscles, it can significantly reduce the risk of migraines, as well as make them easier to manage.
Many patients can find it difficult making it to physical behavioural therapy appointments. So, apps such as this one could really help those who do struggle to get to appointments. Behavioural therapies also really help to complement existing treatments. One of their main advantages is that existing treatments don’t need to be stopped in order to benefit from the app.
While the RELAXaHEAD app isn’t yet commercially available, there are some apps already on the market focusing on helping migraine sufferers to control their symptoms. However, patients should be careful when downloading these apps, as not all of them have been researched thoroughly. Their effectiveness isn’t therefore guaranteed.
Overall, behavioural therapies could prove extremely beneficial for migraine sufferers according to this new research. However, the developers were keen to point out that it should not be used as an alternative to traditional treatments. Instead, it has been designed to supplement existing treatment options.
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