For years doctors have looked at Harry’s medical history in an effort to explain his intense headaches. In 2007 a group of specialists, led by the late Dr. Fred Sheftell of the New England Center for Headache in Stamford, Conn. diagnosed Harry with “probable migraines.” As author J.K. Rowling explained in one passage, “His forehead hurt terribly – it was aching fit to burst. He opened his eyes… he felt as though a whitehot poker were being applied to his forehead. He clutched his head in his hands; the pain was blinding him… he rolled right over and vomited over the edge of the mattress.”

Recently however, lead author Dr. Matthew Robbins at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and director of inpatient services at the Montefiore Headache Center in New York City has come up with a new diagnosis for Harry’s head pain.  Robbins and his colleagues believe Harry suffers from nummular headache, a disorder that is marked by localized stabbing pain, usually lasting less than two hours. Harry’s headaches always happen in the same spot… around the lightning-bolt scar on his forehead, and he usually endures his headaches for less than a few minutes.   According to Robbins, nummular headaches are often brought on by a head injury.  In Harry’s case, the trauma occurred when he was a child.  During and between headache episodes the area may feel sensitive and tingly.

So why would experts such as Robbins diagnose a fictional character like Harry?  “If you can get the word out to people who are suffering, its a positive thing.  Plus, we had some fun along the way.”   3/26/12  Allison Takeda

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