Low Intensity Focused Ultrasound

Non-Invasive Treatment for Post-Traumatic Headaches

Post-traumatic headache (PTH) is the most commonly reported symptom following TBI, and is among the most persistent and disabling. 

As PTH severely affects quality of life, and a substantial number of patients fail to respond to drug treatments, there is a need for more effective interventions. Neuromodulation has a localized effect on neural circuits with fewer systemic side effects than pharmacological interventions.

One of the latest forms of neuromodulation is low intensity focused ultrasound (LIFU). LIFU combines spatial precision with noninvasive application, and compared to other methods of neuromodulation, LIFU has a unique ability to directly modulate subcortical targets. 

Our lab is exploring the possibility that LIFU can be used to treat PTH in Veterans with TBI. 

We aim to do this by using LIFU to enhance the effects of meditation, which other studies have can be an effective non-pharmaceutical headache treatment.

Potential future applications include LIFU of the amygdala for PTSD, and of the subgenual ACC for depression.

This treatment modality may eventually be useful for a variety of psychiatric and neurological conditions that are insufficiently treated with current technology.

HEADACHE CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE (HCOE)

VAPAHCS is one of seven VA-designated Headache Centers of Excellence (HCoE) programs. Outpatient programs include several headache clinics, including those dedicated to offering such newly FDA-approved treatments as calcitonin gene related peptide (CGRP) inhibitors and neuromodulatory devices, as well as injection and biofeedback clinics and virtual reality. The HCoE is heavily involved in the VA Whole Health Initiative, which focuses on utilizing complementary and integrative health and encouraging patient self-management.