New Device At Ohio State Wexner Medical Center Takes Aim At Cluster Headaches

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UPDATED: Monday August 18, 2014 6:18 PM

39-year old Paul Alterio arrived at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center with a serious issue: for the past four years, he's suffered from cluster headaches.  Those who suffer from them say the pain so severe it carries the nickname ‘suicide headache’.  "It felt like someone was stabbing me in the eye, right behind the temple area” he says. 

OSU Neurologist Brad Otto says it is a painful headache that occurs on one side of your head usually and lasts up to three hours.  “(It’s) considered to be one of the most severe pains known to man.”

Paul says the pain was so bad that it was a 14 on a scale of 1 - 10.   But thanks to doctors, that could change very soon.

erted a first-of-its-kind neurostimulator into Paul’s cheek to block the pain.  He says the device sits under the cheekbone and usually cannot be felt by the patient.

VIDEO: Find out how the device works

When Paul feels a headache coming on, he holds a hand-held device - much like a cell phone - over his cheek to activate the stimulator designed to "turn off" the headache process.

A week after surgery, Paul still has headaches, but says they don't last as long.  "They say it should be about three month once the swelling goes down and I heal completely that I’ll notice any kind of difference.”

Studies in Europe have shown patients like Paul will experience fewer headaches in the long run. 

Otto says he also hopes for on-demand treatment one day down the road.

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