When Marie Stroh has a migraine it feels like someone is smashing her face against a brick wall with a two-by-four.
At one point she was experiencing 15 or more episodes a month, making her a regular in the ER where a cocktail of multiple drugs was the only way to find relief.
Although Botox injections have helped, ultimately there’s no end in sight. There’s no cure. Her condition — likely caused by muscular injuries she suffered in several accidents — is just a fact of life that the 33-year-old labor and delivery nurse and mom of a toddler has learned to accept.
While there are medications that can help, they have serious side effects that impair her ability to safely care for newborns at work or for her daughter Celeste, 3.
Biofeedback Treats Migraine
Thankfully, now Juva’s new smartphone app offering biofeedback therapy for migraine is giving Stroh new hope.
Stroh, one of a handful of patients participating in early testing, said she loves it and has been using it regularly.
“The app lets me take a step back from all the chaos and get back to my inner self,” she said. “ I was able to let thoughts drift away. I felt rejuvenated and better than I did this morning.”
The Juva for Migraine app uses new smartphone camera technology to measure a user’s heart and breathing rates. It also can track body temperature with the Bluetooth feature and a simple finger thermometer.
The user is then guided through breathing and relaxation exercises created by nationally renowned headache expert Dawn Buse, Juva’s Chief Medical Officer and Co-Founder and a clinical psychologist and neurology professor.
App Can Provide Migraine Relief On-the-Go
But this isn’t a meditation app. Stroh was seeing real-time feedback on how successful she was at altering her vital signs via a relaxation meter.
This is what biofeedback is. You can train your mind to control your body and watch your heart rate slow as you practice deep breathing. In the case of migraine, raising or lowering your temperature could help relieve or prevent symptoms, depending upon your individual situation.
Stroh likes the tracking feature, saying that when the 20-minute session ends she can measure her success.
She also likes the mobile nature of the app. Usually, biofeedback, a treatment founded 30 years ago, requires that a patient visit a hospital or clinic and be hooked up to wires and instruments. It's an expensive option that not all insurance plans cover.
Juva will offer patients the ability to practice biofeedback at home at their convenience at a fraction of the cost.
“It’s something you could easily do anywhere,” Stroh said. “I could probably do it on a break at work. It’s really easy. You don’t have to change clothes or go to a doctor’s office. You can do it anywhere you want.”
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