Cluster headache treatment options and resources

Dr. Kavita Kalidas and 38-year-old patient Bryan Garrison discuss his cluster headaches. They also discuss treatment options and resources. Sponsored by Eli Lilly and Company.

Dr. Kavita Kalidas is the Director of the Division of Headache Medicine and Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, where she also serves as the Fellowship Director of Headache Medicine. Dr. Kalidas received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Miami in 2001 and her medical degree from the Ross University School of Medicine in 2005 before completing an internship in Internal Medicine at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, New York in 2006. She was the Chief Resident in Neurology in 2009 at the University of South Florida where she also completed her fellowship in Headache and Facial Pain in 2010. Dr. Kalidas is board-certified in Neurology with a subspecialty certification in Headache Medicine. Her research has focused on therapies for patients with such diseases as multiple sclerosis, migraine and cluster headache, and her work has been published in such journals as Cephalalgia, Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics and Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain.

Bryan Garrison is a 38-year-old Tampa, Florida, resident who has experienced cluster headache attacks for over 18 years. Bryan was diagnosed with cluster headache in 2008 after seven years of experiencing consistent cluster headache periods. Bryan’s cluster headache is cyclical, and he experiences approximately two cluster headache periods a year, typically around the change of seasons (one in the fall and one in the spring) with each cluster period lasting about six weeks. He would experience, on average, four cluster headache attacks per day during this timeframe with each lasting for about an hour and a half. Bryan describes his pain as similar to having a knife stabbed through one side of his head. During an attack, he needs to retreat to a dark, quiet room, even while at work, until the attack subsided. He’s found important support from his colleagues at work, who accommodate him and make sure that he has a comfortable room to push through his cluster headache attacks. In order to cope with the pain, Bryan will often take deep breaths and use portable oxygen to relieve the pain. He described the attacks as agonizing for even his loved ones to witness. In 2018, his doctor recommended that he enroll in a clinical trial of an investigational compound. During the trial, he experienced significantly fewer cluster headache attacks per week.

Bryan is a kinesiotherapy supervisor at the Tampa VA Medical Center, where he manages a sizable staff within the Department of Veterans Affairs with patients who have suffered traumatic brain injuries, amputations, spinal cord injury and other orthopedic disabilities. He’s also a certified rehab specialist who teaches patient how to operate a motor vehicle with adaptive equipment and helps to improve their quality of life after an illness or disability. Bryan regularly discusses his cluster headache symptoms with his patients with traumatic brain injuries, in the hopes of advocating for greater disease awareness and a supportive community.

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