Long-time fans of the popular musical duo Daft Punk might notice a striking similarity between the newly approved migraine device Cefaly and the fashion headbands modeled by the The Crescendolls in the 2003 animated film Interstella 5555. A pop band from another star system, The Crescendolls had a technological style that featured seemingly functional headbands with a gleaming gem or electronic light in the center of their foreheads. Though not specifically worn for pain relief, the headbands were immediately donned after the headache they endured being kidnapped and held as performing slaves in a foreign galaxy.
The real-life version newly approved by the FDA is plastic headband which wraps around the forehead and rests atop the ears. The transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) device called Cefaly already sounds like something out of science fiction. It is positioned in the center of a user’s forehead with a self-adhesive electrode and works by applying an electrical current through the skin to stimulate branches of a specific nerve associated with migraine headaches. “Can you feel it?” Supposedly, the battery-powered headband gives only a slight tingling or massaging sensation when in action.
To the great disappointment of Daft Punk cosplay fans who were hoping to see the migraine device modeled by headache sufferers everywhere, the Ceflay does not work as functional fashion. Far from it, actually. It cannot even provide the next coolest function, which would obviously be to work as-needed for relief once pain starts (imagine teachers or bank tellers pausing to put on the headband mid-lecture or transaction). No, the Cefaly is more of a preventative treatment which only works prior to attacks and can only be worn for one 20 minute session per day.
Additionally, the device sounds even less alien-pop-band-awesome when considering how well-liked it was by users. In the patient satisfaction study, only a little more than half of the users said they would be willing to buy the Cefaly device and continue using it.
Though it is being touted as a “drug-free solution,” patients who have been hoping the wearable device could help them ditch medication should not “celebrate and dance so free” just yet; daily treatments with Cefaly were not enough to completely prevent migraines, nor was Cefaly able to reduce the intensity of headaches which occurred.
Cefaly is not cheap either. It is set to sell for $349.99, with replacement electrodes priced at $24.99 per three pack. Already available in Europe, Canada, and Australia, Cefaly is now approved for use by patients 18 and over as prescribed by a doctor.
As for the space-aged fashion headbands modeled in Daft Punk’s Interstella5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem, music fans and migraine sufferers are free to fantasize about what function such a device could perform. Like so many examples where technology seems to mimic science fiction, could Daft Punk and Toei Animation Studio have come up with the concept of healing headbands before the medical community? That would be up to science fiction fans to decide.
By Mimi Mudd