Why Care Coaching is Key to Managing Chronic Headache

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February 3, 2022
January 30, 2022
Why Care Coaching is Key to Managing Chronic Headache

Neura Health’s membership is truly one-of-a-kind in how comprehensive and personalized it is. Across those experiencing  chronic headaches and migraines, many patients benefit from specific medications, while others may require lifestyle modifications, and the majority will try some combination of both. 

But lifestyle changes are often much easier said than done. How does one go about actually implementing a lifestyle change? This is where a personalized care coach can make a huge difference. A care coach is a healthcare professional who regularly meets with a patient to create an action plan and hold the patient accountable to it.

Coaching specific to headaches and migraines

For patients with headaches and migraines, coaches are specifically trained to provide support in the areas that commonly exacerbate and/or contribute to headache symptoms: diet, sleep, stress, and limited mobility. After initially meeting with your dedicated board-certified neurologist, you will be assigned a care coach who is best suited to meet your needs. The coach will meet with you to set specific goals in the lifestyle area(s) that most impacts your condition. After that initial coaching consultation, you will meet with your coach on a weekly or biweekly basis (your choice) for a brief 15-minute check-in to check in on how you are progressing towards your goal. 

As an example, many of our patients have trouble with their diet and need our help making nutrition changes. We recently helped Anna S., a 53-year old migraine patient, adopt a blue zone diet. While Anna had heard of this diet before, she struggled to incorporate it into her daily routine. Her care coach met with her regularly to create a meal plan and shopping list. After meeting with her care coach for 8 weeks, Anna has seen a significant reduction in her headache frequency (and lost 10 pounds along the way, which has led to other health benefits).

Proven results

In a 2018 review of 11 controlled trials investigating the efficacy of care coaching, 82 percent of trials found that patients utilizing coaches had significant improvements across blood pressure, weight, and quality of dietary intake.  Neura patients have continuously left 5 out of 5-stars feedback on their care coaching visits. Further, most of our patients have built strong emotional bonds with their coaches, reporting that for the first time in their chronic care journey, they feel fully understood and cared for by this new care team member. 

Care concierge versus care coach

A key part of your Neura membership is unlimited access to a dedicated care team: a board-certified neurologist, a care coach, and a concierge. So what is the difference between a care coach and a concierge? 

Concierges help patients with all the administrative challenges of managing their chronic condition, since the last chore a headache patient needs is the headache of dealing with the existing healthcare system. Concierges can help schedule appointments, find and submit referrals, share relevant health information between doctors (faxing lab orders, for example), and they generally serve as the patient’s advocate through the existing system. 

Care coaches, on the other hand, offer emotional support, education, accountability, and a listening ear. Coaches serve as an extension of the neurologist’s care; they align internally with our doctors and help scale their care through more frequent touchpoints with the patient.

Areas of coaching support

All Neura coaches offer general support in headaches and migraine. For example, they can help educate you on your specific type of headache. They can also use the Neura tracker to uncover a holistic understanding of all the environmental triggers that may be contributing to your more frequent and/or severe headache attacks. Further, if you are trying a new medication that isn’t working for you or causing too many side effects, coaches can help you think through next steps, looping in your neurologist when necessary. Beyond general support, coaches are trained in three specific tracks:

  • Diet and nutrition - Coaches are trained by Danielle Fineberg, RD on appropriate diets for those who experience headaches from food triggers. They are well-versed in the Blue Zone diet, as well as how to do a brief elimination diet to help the patient understand the relationship between their diet and headaches.

  • Physical therapy and exercise - Coaches are trained by Andrew Mcgovern, PT/DPT, on helpful exercises for the head, neck, and body. These are typically recommended for those who have headaches associated with certain movements, or a lack of movement. 

  • Biofeedback - Coaches are trained by biofeedback coaches to allow them to facilitate audio-guided meditation and pain reprocessing therapy. Biofeedback is helpful to those whose headaches are triggered and/or exacerbated with stress.

Format of Neura’s coaching program

Within Neura, coaching takes two main forms:

  • Regular video visits with one’s care coach - patients decide if they’d like to meet with their coach weekly, biweekly, or on demand.

  • Care plan - this is an in-app list of follow up action items that a neurologist assigns to the patient. This list is customized based on patient needs, and changes dynamically as the patient completes action items such as reading relevant content, logging medication, performing helpful exercises, and more. 

Recognizing how a care coach might help you with your chronic headaches and migraines? Start your Neura membership and meet your dedicated care coach as soon as today!

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Elizabeth Burstein, CEO
Liz Burstein is CEO and Co-Founder of Neura Health.
About the Author
Liz Burstein is CEO and Co-Founder of Neura Health. She founded Neura Health based on her personal journey with chronic pain, which exposed her to the key challenges of specialist access and care quality that patients face when navigating chronic neurological conditions. Previously, Liz led product development teams at digital health companies Maven Clinic and Zocdoc. She started her career in product management at LinkedIn, where she shipped many core products across both the consumer and enterprise side of the business. Liz also spent time as a venture capital investor focused on enterprise AI, healthcare, and consumer technology. She holds dual degrees in Computer Science and Philosophy from Stanford University.

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