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A Controlled Study of Minimal-Contact Thermal Biofeedback Treatment in Children with Migraine
Scharff L, Marcus DA, Masek BJ
Posted: December 2008  
J Pediatr Psychol.   2002 Mar;27(2):109-19

Objective:   To evaluate the effectiveness of handwarming biofeedback (HWB) and stress management training in comparison to attention (handcooling, HCB) and wait-list control groups. Thermal biofeedback has been used in many pediatric migraine treatment studies and has demonstrated a consistent therapeutic effect. No published studies to date have compared this treatment modality with credible attention control using biofeedback technology.

Methods:   Thirty-six children and adolescents, as well as the mothers and fathers of these children enrolled in the study, were randomly assigned to the three groups. Thirty-four children completed treatment. Both treatment groups received four sessions of biofeedback training and a portable biofeedback device for home practice. Ratings of treatment credibility showed that the children rated the two treatments as equally credible. Assessment included anxiety and depression questionnaires for the children and both of their parents.

Results:   Children who had been assigned to the HWB group were more likely to achieve clinical improvement in migraine after treatment than the children in the HCB group. Treatment gains were maintained up to 6 months after treatment. Home practice data reflected a general increase in temperature in the HWB group and a decrease in temperature for the HCB group.

Conclusions:   The results of this study confirm the findings of earlier pediatric migraine biofeedback treatment studies and also provide support for the specific effect of treatments including stress management and HWB. Future studies with larger sample sizes will aid in delineating the appropriateness of HCB as a control treatment.