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As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, NHS England is funding a handheld device that can zap away painful headaches in its effort to integrate cutting-edge technology into the Health Service.

The gadget uses low-levels of electric current to disrupt pain signals and relieve the suffering of those who are having ‘cluster’ headaches.

Although rare, cluster headaches are more common in men and tend to start when a person is in their 30s or 40s and are described as excruciating attacks of pain.

The headaches generally begin quickly, with the pain being very severe and often described as a sharp, burning or piercing sensation on one side of the head. The condition is felt around the eye, temple and sometimes face and usually occurs on the same side for each attack.

The attacks generally last between 15 minutes and three hours, and typically occur between one and eight times a day.

However, the introduction of the new handheld innovation can help reduce pain as it is placed on the patient’s neck where it stimulates the vagus nerve. It aims to help those experiencing cluster headaches who do not respond well to traditional treatments, such as prescription of triptans (painkillers), oxygen or anticonvulsants.

Under the NHS scheme, patients could be prescribed the technology and carry it with them so that they can use it regularly to prevent cluster headaches or when they feel one coming on.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “The NHS has long been at the forefront of driving innovation, and as we deliver our ambitious Long Term Plan, the NHS will continue to be a world leader in adopting and spreading life-changing innovations.

“Innovative technologies like this could not only alleviate painful symptoms but could empower patients to claim back their ordinary daily lives.”

The innovation is being funded as part of a scheme to fast track specific innovations into the NHS, which over the past three years, has helped over 300,000 patients.

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