Current Environment:

Headache Program Research

The neurologists in our program work to understand your child’s unique situation and thoughtfully develop the best treatment plan.

Comprehensive care

In addition to prescribing medications, we frequently work with psychologists and practitioners of various forms of complementary medicine, as non-pharmacological strategies have been very effective in helping children with headaches.


One technique that we recommend for many of our patients is biofeedback, performed by psychologists who specialize in the technique.

Biofeedback is a relaxation therapy that uses special sensors attached to the skin to monitor physical responses, such as breathing or muscle tension. The psychologist first evaluates your child’s physical response to tension or pain, and then teaches him or her how to change those responses effectively to help him or her manage and prevent pain independently. If we think this method might be appropriate for your child, we will work with you to find an appropriate provider in your local area for ongoing biofeedback therapy.

If you are interested in more in-depth discussion about these different therapies and the ways they can help to relieve children’s headache pain, please see our headaches page.

Working with your primary care provider

Neurologists at Boston Children’s Hospital work hard to develop effective plans of care for our patients and families, partnering with primary care physicians to provide the best care possible.

In order to make this collaboration even more effective, pediatric neurologists from Boston Children’s and primary care physicians from Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates (HVMA) have come together to develop new, more effective ways of working as a team. Appropriate and relevant information is forwarded to us prior to the appointment, and information about patients’ visits to our service is shared with their primary care physicians more quickly and efficiently than ever.

We are committed to providing continuing updates on the newest developments in headache management to our partners at HVMA. This approach allows pediatric headache patients to receive a larger portion of their ongoing care in their medical home, strengthening their connection with their pediatricians and providing for more comprehensive and convenient coordination of care.

This approach allows for shorter wait times for appointments in Boston Children’s Department of Neurology and lower medical costs for families and employers. Together with our partners at HVMA, we aim to deliver family centered care to our patients in the most appropriate setting.

We look forward to expanding this collaborative model to include other primary care provider groups, as well. We understand and value the importance of working closely with primary care providers in order to provide the very best in coordinated care to our patients.

Improving headache care through research

There is still a lot of mystery about the nature and causes of headache pain, both in children and adults. In the Headache Program at Boston Children’s Hospital, we are actively involved in ongoing scientific research to better understand headache mechanisms, their effects, and potential new forms of treatment.

Alyssa LeBel, MD, and her colleagues in the Department of Neurology and the Department of Anesthesiology, Critical Care and Pain Medicine are using a type of brain scan called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the difference between the brain activity of children and teens with migraines with those of patients are not migraneurs. We hope this research will contribute to our better understanding of migraine headaches and thus help us to develop more effective treatment approaches.

Boston Children’s Hospital doctors are also studying the effectiveness of non-drug therapies, such as biofeedback methods, for children with chronic headaches, including chronic migraines.

Search for clinical studies at Boston Children's.