Helping Veterans suffering from migraines and headaches Headaches and migraines VAntage Point - VAntage Point Blog

Each day The VA Connecticut Headache Center of Excellence (HCoE) is focused on the treatment of Veterans who suffer with migraines as well as headaches.

The goal of The HCoE staff is to offer high-quality headache treatment for Veterans. They accomplish this by adopting an holistic approach to treat Veterans. It could involve exercises, physical therapy diet and nutrition modifications, Botox injections, medications as well as other treatments that are advanced.

The leader in fighting headaches within VA Connecticut is Dr. Emmanuelle Schindler, a neurologist who has been at VA since the year 2016. “I always discovered that the brain was fascinating,” he said. “When I was doing my medical school internships I was fascinated by watching patients suffering from headaches. It’s because there’s numerous treatments that can make the lives of people significantly better.”

VA Headache Centers of Excellence were authorized by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The committee noted that more than 350,000 Veterans suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBI) throughout the Global War on Terror. It also recognized that chronic migraine/post-traumatic headache is the signature symptom of TBI.

The members from The Headache Center of Excellence. From left to right: Pharmacy Technician Alex Guirguis, Nurse Practitioner Maxine Coore and Dr. Ashish Adlakha, Dr. Emmanuelle Schindler

“Headaches are now manageable, to allow them to enjoy their lives.”

“I recommend to Veterans If you’re suffering from headaches often, speak to your primary care physician and you’ll be sent towards the HCoE,” said Schindler. “It’s been extremely rewarding to work at VA. I’ve seen a lot of patients who were unable to work and had a difficult time of a quality of life because of their headaches. While we’re still not able to get the patients to have zero headaches however, we’ve managed to help them make their headaches manageable, so that they can take pleasure in their lives.”

Posttraumatic headaches can be found in as high as 92 percent of military personnel who suffer from mild TBI and are often associated with ongoing daily headaches. The frequency of daily headaches among returning soldiers following concussions related to deployment is 20 percent more than all of the U.S. population.

At the HCoE’s satellite offices located at the VA CBOC in Newington, CT. the doctor Dr. Ashish Adlakha runs what is known as the headache bootcamp. “Officially it’s an all-disciplinary clinic that we run each week for patients to be treated. I also work part-time within the private industry too. I am confident that the service we offer this way, which is an approach that is multi-disciplinary to the treatment of Veterans as well as access to various physicians, treatments and medical devices is exclusive to VA. It is not possible to receive that level of service in the private sector.”

A four-pronged strategy: clinical care Education, research, and innovating

The strategic plan of HCoE to treat Veterans who suffer of headaches and migraines incorporates a four-pronged approach using medical care, education research, and innovation for treating Veterans. The helm of the organization will be National HCoE Program Director Dr. Jason Sico.

“One reason I am a fan of neurology is that the brain, or our nervous system, is the one that determines what we are in large portion,” Sico said. “When patients suffer from headaches it can affect their life quality. It can be debilitating and hinder them from doing the things they cherish most, such as spending time with friends, family or loved ones. It’s just one of the numerous reasons why I’m attracted to treating patients suffering from headaches.”

About half of all adults have experienced headaches at least once in the past year. Migraine is by far the most popular kind of headache that leads people to see a doctor for attention. In 2017, 380,000 Veterans visited the Veterans Affairs system to treat headache-related disorders.

“When you consider the statistics of patients below 55, headaches are one of the most difficult neurological ailments all over the world and not just in within the United States. When you look at the age group , you can claim that’s when people are at their highest productivity,” Sico added.

Nineteen headache centers throughout America

“This is the time that people are raising families and managing their careers. If you consider this as a crucial time in life, how can one not wish to aid these people?” said Sico. “What I love the more about the Veterans Administration’s Headache Center of Excellence program is that it displays the dedication of VA in helping and supporting Veterans who suffer from headaches.”

The HCoE program began with just seven centers. It has proven so successfulthat there are 19 centers in the United States and at least one of them is part of each Veterans Integrated Services Network. In the coming calendar year Congress is requesting VA to increase its number to 28 centers in total.

If you are suffering from headaches and headaches, you should contact your primary healthcare provider for a consultation. It is possible to refer you to an VA HCoE.