Biofeedback-virtual reality device beneficial in chronic migraine

18 Apr 2023
Biofeedback-virtual reality device beneficial in chronic migraine

For individuals with chronic migraine, frequent use of a portable biofeedback-virtual reality device leads to a decreased frequency of acute analgesic drug use and an improvement in depression, as shown in a pilot study.

The study included 50 adults with chronic migraine. They were randomly assigned to the experimental group (n=25) or wait-list control group (n=25). The experimental group had to frequently use a heart rate variability biofeedback-virtual reality device, in addition to receiving standard medical care. On the other hand, the wait-list control group received standard medical care alone.

The primary endpoint was a reduction in mean monthly headache days between groups at 12 weeks. Secondary endpoints included mean change in acute analgesic drug use frequency, depression, migraine-related disability, stress, insomnia, and catastrophizing between groups at 12 weeks. Tertiary outcomes were change in heart rate variability and device-related user experience measures.

At 12 weeks, the reduction in mean monthly headache days was similar in the two treatment groups.

However, compared with the control group, the experimental group had significant decreases in mean frequency of total acute analgesic use per month (–65 percent vs –35 percent; p<0.01) and in depression score (–35 percent vs 0.5 percent; p<0.05) at 12 weeks.

At the end of the study, more than half of the participants who used the device reported satisfaction on a 5-level Likert scale.

The findings highlight the potential of the device as an add-on treatment for chronic migraine, especially for individuals aiming to decrease acute analgesic drug use or interested in nonmedication approaches.

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