Limerick Schools Migraine Project
In January 2017 Tara O’Brien and Lauren Moran’s Project, Migraine: It’s Not Just a Headache, was selected to compete at the BT Young Scientists Exhibition. Tara and Lauren are second year students at Hazelwood College, Dromcollogher, Co. Limerick and while they didn’t progress to the finals with their project, it was a great achievement for the girls to qualify for the BTYSE .
Tara O’Brien herself suffers from migraine and you can read her personal story and her experiences of taking part in the competition in this issue. Migraine in children and young adults is still a misunderstood and often misdiagnosed condition. Children can find it hard to describe their symptoms and teenagers often want to hide their condition from their peers.
The objective of Tara and Lauren’s project was to investigate the prevalence of migraine in adolescents in their local area and to raise awareness of the effects that migraines have on young people, their families, friends, school, sporting & social life
The research phase of the project involved the dissemination and collection of data in the form of student and teacher surveys on migraine. The surveys were distributed in Cork, Limerick and Tipperary and in total 614 student surveys & 119 teacher surveys were returned and formed the basis of this study.
The key findings from the study were as follows:
• 28% of students, 1 in 4 students, stated they suffered from Migraine Attacks.
• Students perceived Stress (81%) to be the most common trigger for migraine attacks, followed by Not enough sleep (71%), Too much time in front of the TV or Computer (50%), Missing meals (45%), Fizzy Drinks/Junk Food (24%), Changes in the weather (22%), Not enough exercise (21%) Too much exercise (6%), Excitement (6%) and Too much sleep (4%).
• The most common symptom was severe headache (97%) but nearly half of respondents also suffered from aura and nausea, with 40% fainting and losing consciousness
• Only 10% of students who suffer from Migraines think the people around them know and understand what effects a Migraine can have on them and their personal and social life.
• Only 7% of all students think that their school knows what should be done for them if they get a Migraine attack in school, despite the fact that 1 in 3 teachers indicated they also suffer from migraine. Only 27% of all teachers felt they knew what should be done for a student if they get a migraine attack in school.
• A small 5% of students who suffer from Migraine are aware of the special arrangements that can be made for a student with Migraine when sitting the Junior or Leaving Certificate and this is reflected in the fact that only 12% of teachers are aware of the special arrangements for students available under the Reasonable Accommodation for Cert Examinations (R.A.C.E) Scheme.
These results are in no way individual to the South West region and MAI would assert they in fact reflect the experiences of students and teachers nationwide.
Clearly there is a job of work to be done over the coming years to educate and train teachers and school staff in recognising and supporting students with migraine and to educate the wider student community on the realities of living with migraine. The Migraine Association is actively pursuing the development of migraine training and information sessions throughout Ireland and if you are a teacher or a parent and you would like us to visit your school to provide a presentation or information stand then please contact email@example.com.
Congratulations again to Tara and Lauren on their project which has provided a very valuable insight into the realities of teenagers living with migraine.