Rad­nor dad to run Grand Canyon for child­hood mi­graine re­search

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - NEWS - By Linda Stein lstein@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com To do­nate to Di Marino’s Rim-toRim-to-Rim Chal­lenge, visit: https://chop. donor­drive.com/in­dex.

RAD­NOR » No one wants to see their child suf­fer.

Keith DiMarino’s daugh­ter, Alexa, 12, had a mi­graine headache that would not go away. It lasted for three long months this past spring. The fam­ily con­sulted with a neu­rol­o­gist at Johns Hop­kins and Dr. Donna Stephen­son, a pe­di­atric neu­rol­o­gist at Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal of Philadel­phia. Hap­pily, Alexa is do­ing much bet­ter now and is in sev­enth grade at St. Katharine of Siena School this fall.

The Wayne res­i­dent praised St. Kather­ine’s teach­ers and Prin­ci­pal Bud Tosti for their un­der­stand­ing and kind­ness to his daugh­ter, who had to miss sev­eral months of school be­cause of the se­vere mi­graine pain.

“They were great,” he said. “They re­ally worked with us. The whole ad­min­is­tra­tion over there was re­ally sup­port­ive.”

While Alexa did miss some school work dur­ing her mi­graine siege, she is a straight A stu­dent and a year ahead in math, so she did not fall be­hind, DiMarino said.

“All the stu­dents were writ­ing cards,” he said. “It’s a re­ally cool com­mu­nity. It was a pleas­ant sur­prise the way they han­dled it.”

With treat­ment, Alexa be­gan to “show some progress with a cou­ple of medicines,” DiMarino said. “She started to feel bet­ter. By the end of the sum­mer, she has a few flash mi­graines; they come and go.”

In ad­di­tion to med­i­ca­tions, Alexa avoids foods that might trig­ger a mi­graine like caf­feine and nuts. She also started work­ing out on the ad­vice of Dr. Stephen­son, he said.

“It’s tough,” said DiMarino. “It’s a hard thing to have. The CHOP team was awe­some. We went all through CHOP. It started with a si­nus in­fec­tion, so we were in ear, nose and throat.”

They also went to an in­fec­tious disease spe­cial­ist at CHOP to rule out Lyme disease, he said.

DiMarino, 40, de­cided to take ac­tion to in­crease aware­ness of child­hood mi­graines, to sup­port re­search into the con­di­tion and to help CHOP. He will take part in the Rim-to-Rim-toRim Chal­lenge on Sept. 29 and 30 with a goal of rais­ing $25,000. With a group of Iron­men triath­letes, he will run and walk on trails zigzag­ging down the Grand Canyon, across the canyon floor and back again, about 22 miles each way.

DiMarino, the CEO of DocuVault, who de­scribes him­self as a ca­sual run­ner, played football and wres­tled in high school at The Haver­ford School.

Al­though DiMarino con­sid­ers him­self a life­long ath­lete, he added, “I am not an Iron­man. I don’t think you’ll catch me do­ing any more than six or seven miles in any given sit­u­a­tion, so I’ve been try­ing to ag­gres­sively train more for the in­creased dis­tance.”

He is also work­ing with a trainer, he said. DiMarino is train­ing around 22 hours a week.

“I am proud of my dad that he is tak­ing on this chal­lenge, and I am ex­cited that he is go­ing to raise money for chil­dren like my­self that suf­fer with mi­graines,” said Alexa, who has three younger sib­lings, Keith Jr., 9; Daniel, 7; and Colin, 5.

Along with his wife, Jen­nifer, his fam­ily is sup­port­ing his ef­forts, said DiMarino, but they will not be com­ing to Ari­zona for the Chal­lenge week­end.

Mean­while, Stephen­son said that mi­graines in chil­dren are not rare, as was pre­vi­ously thought. Some

7,500 pa­tients were treated for headaches at CHOP last year alone, she said. About

60 per­cent of chil­dren have headaches, and 8 per­cent of those chil­dren have mi­graines. Mi­graines strike

12 per­cent of adults, with more women than men suffering from the con­di­tion. Most re­search on mi­graines has been done on adults, so doc­tors “ex­trap­o­late” that knowl­edge to treat chil­dren, she said. But more re­search is needed on child­hood mi­graines.

She would also like to see more aware­ness and ed­u­ca­tion, she said.

There are “best habits and prac­tices” to help pre­vent mi­graines, such as stay­ing “well hy­drated,” get­ting ad­e­quate sleep and fol­low­ing a good and reg­u­lar diet, she said. Ex­er­cis­ing and learn­ing how to man­age stress also play a role.

There are “med­i­ca­tions to treat mi­graines acutely,” said Stephen­son. “There are sev­eral med­i­ca­tions that are safe and ef­fec­tive.”

Ad­di­tional med­i­ca­tions are avail­able if pa­tients don’t re­spond at first, and there are also pre­ven­tive med­i­ca­tions to keep mi­graine fre­quency down, she said.

Al­though mi­graines are a chronic con­di­tion with no cure at the mo­ment, these headaches can “come un­der ef­fec­tive con­trol,” said Stephen­son. And in some cases, child suf­fer­ers can out­grow their mi­graines, she said, but get­ting treat­ment early and fol­low­ing healthy habits are im­por­tant.

“Headache is such a com­mon and per­va­sive con­di­tion in chil­dren,” said Stephen­son. “It causes dis­abil­ity, missed school, missed ac­tiv­i­ties and is as­so­ci­ated with de­pres­sion and anx­i­ety. It re­ally is a dis­abling but very treat­able, con­di­tion. Kids largely get bet­ter with ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment.”


Keith DiMarino is pic­tured with his daugh­ter, Alexa, who suf­fers from mi­graines. He will take part in the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim Chal­lenge at the Grand Canyon to raise funds for child­hood mi­graine re­search.

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