Feb
12

Special Interest Section Profile: Post-traumatic Headache Section

See how this section works to improve recognition of post-traumatic headaches and advance the understanding of treatment options.

The American Headache Society is home to a diverse array of Special Interest Sections, including the Post-traumatic Headache section, that connect members with shared expertise and interests to collaborate on research, develop practice models and provide multidisciplinary participation in support of the Society’s overall mission.

The focus of the Post-traumatic Headache Special Interest Section reflects the Society’s broader goal of refining our understanding of causes and treatments for headache disorders. By working to define the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of patients with post-traumatic headache, the Post-traumatic Headache Special Interest Section works to improve the field’s understanding of post-traumatic headaches and advance our understanding of treatment options.

We spoke with Past Chair Alan Finkel, MD, FAHS, about the group’s ongoing work and its vision for the future.

Name of Special Interest Section

Post-traumatic Headache

What is the mission of your special interest section?

The mission of the Post Traumatic Section is to bring together clinicians and scientists with diverse interests and experience to study and treat PTH. The original idea came from Dr. Ann Scher and Roger Cady with the unwavering support of Drs Robert Daroff and Fred Sheftell both of whose interest reached back to the Vietnam War.

Though military PTH was an important part of the Section, others with interest in Sports Concussion including Francis Conidi and others propelled the Section into a prominent position in the educational efforts put forth by AHS. Initial accomplishments included a Veterans’ Day ACHE newsletter and dedicated session at both the Annual Scientific Meeting and the Scottsdale Headache Symposium that brought together experts in the field. Led more recently by Drs Sylvia Lucas and Andrew Ahn, the Section is a vital part of the mission of AHS especially as it applies to the service members injured in the recent conflicts. 

Our first and most important mission is to help the Society lead the efforts to develop guidelines for research practice and treatment. Defining the necessary language to assist academic headache medicine specialists and the pharmaceutical industry to develop research, develop primary endpoints (which has been elusive to date) and predict outcomes of those with TBI are paramount to fulfilling the mission of the Section. As leaders in the field, we are helping all parties move towards FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of persistent post-traumatic headache.

What are some recent projects that the section has initiated?

Members of the section are leading the field by publishing primary research and editorials and opinion pieces in the Society’s journal, Headache®, trying to answer those questions posed by our current chair: Are we defining post-traumatic headache in the right way; are we on the right track with our diagnoses and language to define PTH; and are we treating patients with the goals of return to learn, play, activity and for the military, to duty and service?

Since 2010, we presented courses, plenaries and sessions to engage members of the society who have taken the knowledge shared to develop in multicenter studies to test hypotheses and then assist academic and pharmaceutical researchers to develop an evidence-based approach to diagnosis and treatment. 

How is the special interest section making an impact in the field of headache?

We have succeeded in gathering stakeholders of all types and from disparate areas of interest to come together around our patients who have had head injuries and persistent PTH. The Section is dedicated to those patients for the long term and the American Headache Society is committed to providing support for our efforts to provide answers to questions posed and yet to ask, and to those resources to ultimately meet the needs of all our stakeholders.

The American Headache Society takes pride in helping to advance research on headache and face pain. We’re grateful to the Post-traumatic Headache Special Interest Section for actively working to advance those goals. If you are an AHS member who would like to get involved with this section, join here. If you’re not a member, join today.

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