Interview with Dr. Elizabeth Seng
Excedrin Health Expert on the Augmented Reality Experience
By JP Summers – May 1, 2016
A few weeks ago Excedrin unveiled “The Migraine Experience” that not only created a buzz all over the media outlets, but got the vast majority in the migraine community to take to their Twitter, Facebook or blogs and truthfully convey how this type of augmented reality could overall affect the way people view those of us living this neurological disease.
As someone who has spent the last 30 years trying to explain or worse stand up for myself because my debilitating migraines decided to once again ruin any chance of me enjoying a day out with friends, family, my husband or kids; I wondered had the team over at Excedrin actually find an effective way to alter the perception of someone that had never experienced migraines?
There I was, in the midst of the postdrome stage of a migraine attack, early in the A.M. hours watching each video all the while keeping an open mind about this latest augmented reality platform that is being used to simulate an immersive experience that replicates common migraine symptoms, such as sensitivity to light and sound, disorientation, and aura (visual disturbances, sometimes manifesting as spots or jagged edges).
What were my first thoughts on this entire concept after viewing each video with the boyfriend/girlfriend, mother/daughter, coworkers and friends duos was the following:
- I need my husband to wear that contraption for a full weekend, with NO BREAKS from it!
- I’m glad at least one man was chosen to go through the experience!
- Some will think this was a complete waste of resources and the money should have gone towards migraine research efforts.
- Let’s get those to middle/high schools’ and begin educating the next generation of kids that migraines are not headaches, cause a wide range of debilitating symptoms, and it is NOT acceptable to poke fun at another person when they are living with a neurological disease that currently has no cure.
- We need those sent out to insurance companies and the Social Security Disability Administration so they can wear it before making a crucial decision on whether to approve the help people living with migraines so desperately need.
- There needs to be something that smells extremely disgusting (to convey the sensitivity to smells) and spin the person around 20 times before putting the device on them so that the feeling of vertigo is enforced while they’re attempting to walk around (or should I say attempting to keep from falling as I always do as a result of my vertigo associated migraines).
- WHY didn’t they add some way for the person to feel some type of head pain? I bet they couldn’t factor in the concept of pain because legal said it’s immorally wrong to purposely torture someone.
Not even a full day had passed when I couldn’t help from noticing the numerous shares of the YouTube video and members from several of my migraine support groups I’m a part of posting the pros and cons of Excedrin’s latest technology that intersects with health in order to create more awareness. If there were ever a controversial conversation to stir the pot amongst migraineurs this sure was that thing.
People had no problem voicing their strong negative or positive opinions. It’s one of the greatest qualities I love about our community of incredibly driven advocates composed of patients, caregivers, neurologist and headache specialist.
Because I spent the latter part of the past 4 years surrounded by people from the medical field, I’ve taken an interest in learning more about what ultimately brought them to that decision where helping people living with debilitating health conditions like migraines is so important to them.
That’s why I was thrilled about the opportunity to speak one-on-one with Clinical Psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Seng; Excedrin’s health expert chosen by GSK Consumer Healthcare just for the Augmented Reality Experience.
What was it about Dr. Seng that made her presence become an intricate part of Excedrin’s mission to raise awareness about migraines?
Five minutes into our conversation I completely understood why she was selected for such a groundbreaking juncture.
Dr. Seng’s commitment to provide an expert perspective on migraine prevalence, migraine burden and migraine stigma was a top priority of hers. The excitement in her voice as we discussed what it meant for her personally witness each couple go through Excedrin’s new technological innovation spoke volumes about her dedication to help others dealing with pain.
Witnessing her own mother experience migraines with aura; along with a few of her friends Dr. Seng’s decision to focus on people living with pain once entering Grad School made perfect sense. She realized that people in pain are often marginalized in the healthcare system. That was more than enough reason for her to advocate on their behalf.
As a clinical health psychologist, Dr. Seng is interested in how thoughts and behaviors influence health problems. The goal is to help change thoughts and behaviors to improve overall health. She studies behavioral treatments and decision-making for headache, chronic pain, and other health problems influenced by stress. These treatments focus on changing thoughts and behaviors, so they are considered forms of “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.”
Dr. Seng spent all of her time during grad school studying migraines. She started out in Behavioral treatment trials and 10 years later her work is centered on clinical mindfulness cognitive behavioral therapy; relaxation strategies to help manage migraines.
One of the highlights during her time as a grad student at Ohio University was having the honor of working alongside the great Kenneth A. Holroyd; one of the first psychologists to first study migraines.
What is the environment like in Dr. Seng’s clinic?
A must for any one of Dr. Seng’s PHD students is they WILL NEVER wear perfume or cologne for the next five years in her clinic due to working with people that have migraines. The light bulbs where switched out for ones that would be much friendlier to her patient’s eyes. Because Dr. Seng strongly believes that it is important to stay hydrated and not to skip meals she stocks her clinic with water bottles and snacks because some people may end up staying a few hours going through various tests.
As a psychologist Dr. Seng has seen a lot of couples in her office where one person suffers from migraines and the individual without them has yet to understand the importance of being more supportive towards their loved ones debilitating state.
Dr. Seng was on site when Excedrin conducted the experience. They set up a little cafe for their participants to navigate through while wearing the device then brought in 4 couples where one person had migraines and the other was someone important to the migraineur.
Overall she witnessed about 7 couples go through the experience.
So the burning question that I really wanted to know….Did Excedrin really do their part to raise migraine awareness for those participant that had never experienced any type of migraine related symptoms until wearing the head gear?
Dr. Seng had the following to say about the couples she observed during and after the experiment.
“The look of realization about what the person they love goes through when they have a migraine made me tear up a little bit because I was looking at them and seeing all of my patients I had worked with over so many years and how much they wished their significant others or family could have that kind of realization.” Dr. Seng went on to say, “When the significant other took off the cap they looked over at them and would comment it was so much more than what I thought and you have pain and nausea with that too.”
She hopes everyone in the migraine community will capitalize the conversations they are having right now and talk openly with the people in their lives.
Dr. Seng ended our conversation on this note, “Migraines need to be taken seriously. We need to reduce the stigma. We need to help people in our lives who have migraines. We need to encourage people to go to their doctors. If you think you have migraines get the right diagnosis. If your migraines change talk to your doctor. If your symptoms change talk to your doctor and come up with a comprehensive treatment plan that is right for you.”
It’s that kind of passion towards a neurological disease, more than 38 million Americans live with, that has me thankful to have someone like Dr. Elizabeth Seng on our side helping raise migraine awareness.
Pictures from the Augmented Reality Experience provided by Weber Shandwick: (Credits: Michael Simon)
To learn more about Excedrin’s mission to raise migraine awareness visit: https://www.excedrin.com/migraines/causes/what-is-the-migraine-simulator/
Dr. Elizabeth Seng is a clinical health psychologist in the greater New York City area who specializes in the study and treatment of headache, chronic pain, and other health problems influenced by stress.
Knowledge about how psychological and social factors influence health is becoming increasingly relevant to patients, healthcare providers, and the general public. Dr. Seng is committed to providing educational tools with the hope that greater knowledge can lead to better health behavior decision-making at the individual, professional, and public levels.
To learn more about Dr. Seng’s work visit her website:
GSK Consumer Healthcare is one of the world’s largest consumer healthcare companies. Their purpose is to help more people around the world to do more, feel better and live longer with everyday healthcare products.
To learn more about GSK Consumer Healthcare and their products visit their website: http://www.gsk.com/