Alex Gehirnger

Pediatric Patient Finds Relief from Chronic Headaches with the Help of Dr. Jack Gladstein

In late October 2009, Alex Gehringer started complaining of migraines so severe that they forced him to miss a full week of school. Alex's doctor suggested that he should receive an MRI* to rule out any lesions or bleeds. Alex's mother, Marge, following the doctor's guidance, took Alex to the emergency room.

The MRI ruled out lesions and bleeding, Alex saw a neurologist, who prescribed various medications that did nothing to relieve Alex's chronic headaches. "He was never headache free," Mrs. Gehringer said. "Alex learned to deal with the headaches."

Marge, a nurse at Howard County General Hospital (HCGH), learned about Dr. Jack Gladstein, Director of the Pediatric Headache Clinic at UMCH, from a UMMC colleague who gave a presentation at HCGH.

Alex then went to see Dr. Gladstein. "I was very impressed by Dr. Gladstein's approach," Mrs. Gehringer said. "I was aware that Dr. Gladstein viewed Alex as a person who was in need of his expert help. We were not rushed, he explained what he was doing to Alex and why, and allowed Alex to be the primary participant in his plan of care. He was able to relate to Alex, and every time we see him, he remembers things about Alex, like his interest in baseball, and talks to him about his interests."

For his part, Dr. Gladstein said his treatment approach begins by determining what impact the headaches have had on Alex's life. Based on those findings, Dr. Gladstein prescribed a combination of lifestyle changes and medication for migraine flare-ups. In addition to these changes, Dr. Gladstein said he could work with Alex's school to allow for leniency of absences.

Alex experienced frequent migraines in the spring of 2010. His mother, though, kept in contact with Dr. Gladstein via e-mail for advice on treating Alex's headaches.

By the start of summer, Alex had been migraine free for three weeks. He is getting ready to go to Omaha, Nebraska with his travel baseball team, for which he is the catcher. In addition to his passion for baseball, he is an amateur photographer who often enjoys reading and writing poetry and short stories. "I'm confident that Alex will feel better soon," Mrs. Gehringer said.

*Author's Note: An MRI is not necessary in all headache evaluations.