Grandfather thanks hospital for life-changing migraine treatment

Wednesday 2 January 2019

Patient Barrington Simner holding sTMS device

A grandfather of four has credited a pioneering migraine treatment he received at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust for transforming his life.

Barrington Simner, 72, from Bromley in south-east London, suffered from migraines for more than 20 years after developing the condition aged 50.

Migraines are severe headaches that are usually accompanied by additional symptoms, including nausea and vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Around 10 million adults in the UK are affected by the condition.

Thanks to doctors at Guy’s and St Thomas’, Barrington’s migraines are now under control after receiving a treatment known as single pulse Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (sTMS).

Previously only available in hospital, sTMS can now be delivered by placing a portable device at the back of the head for a few seconds and pressing a button to deliver a painless magnetic pulse into the skull. This stimulates cells in the outer surface of the brain, which reduces the severity and frequency of migraines. The device, which looks like a handheld radio, can be used up to eight times a day.

Guy’s and St Thomas' headache centre, part of the pain management and neuromodulation department, is the only NHS centre in the UK currently providing this treatment.

Barrington, a retired pharmacist, said: “I started getting migraines when I turned 50 and over time they got progressively worse. At one point I was getting a migraine twice a week. They were completely debilitating.

“I would get an excruciating pain in my right eye and I would have to lie down in the dark for a day or two. I became very hesitant about socialising or going on holiday in case I got an attack and I was dependent on my wife Frances for support.

 “I tried lots of different powerful painkillers, but the side-effects made me feel drowsy. sTMS is the only treatment that has worked for me.

“I’ve massively reduced the amount of painkillers I take. I am now able to volunteer, spend time gardening and enjoy life. I’m really thankful to the team at Guy’s and St Thomas’ for the care I’ve received. The treatment has completely changed my life.”

Dr Anna Andreou, director of headache research at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College London, said: “We’re delighted that Barrington is no longer suffering from migraines and is now able to lead a full and active life.

“Migraines are very common, but it’s not fully understood why they develop and for some people the condition can be extremely debilitating, causing severe headaches and vomiting.

“What’s really great about the sTMS device is that the treatment is safe, non-invasive and portable. It works especially well for patients who have not responded sufficiently to previous medications or need to avoid taking certain drugs because they have another health condition.

 “At Guy’s and St Thomas’ we are unique in being able to offer this novel treatment and we are very pleased to be able to provide it to migraine sufferers. It’s completely life-changing for many patients.”

Last updated: March 2022

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