Teen Develops Dress to Detect Migraine to Help Her Mom

Patient Expert
Medically Reviewed
Blaine Shahan and LancasterOnline.com

We know that our migraine attacks respond better when we use treatment early in a migraine attack. One problem, however, is that it's sometimes difficult to tell when a migraine is coming on.

To help her mother, 15-year-old Grace Buckwalter decided to find a way to help detect a migraine before it starts. She has designed a dress that changes colors based on brain activity. Grace says, "It's like a mood ring, but a dress." Her efforts have resulted in a great deal of attention, including local television and TEDxLancaster.

The dress has a very special accessory, a headpiece that Grace borrowed from the game Mindflex. In Mindflex, the headpiece uses electroencephalography (EEG) technology to steer a Styrofoam ball through an optical course. With the dress, the headpiece interprets brainwaves, then transmits data through a circuit into a microprocessor. The microprocessor then emits light of different colors through optic fibers incorporated into the dress. There are six optic fiber bundles on the dress with colors scaling from red to blue to purple to green. Grace says that the meditation fibers turn red if the wearer is nervous and green if they're relaxed.

Grace entered her dress in the computational and bio-informatics category at the North Museum Science and Engineering Fair, winning third place. She has now been invited to present it at TEDxLancaster, the annual conference that gives innovative thinkers a chance to share their ideas. To demonstrate the dress for her TEDx presentation, Grace plans to wear the dress and play a song by classical musician Takenobu. The fibers on the dress would change with the changes of tempo and volume in the song. Grace said, "I always thought (TED talks) were really cool. I never thought I would get to do one."

Grace is fascinated by neuroscience and may study the field in college. She adds:

"I want to find ways to treat (neurological) disorders through technology and treat them in more natural ways. What if I can take the brainwaves of a migraine patient and transmit them for an early detection of a migraine?"

Grace is a very special young lady and an obviously intelligent one. It will be interesting to follow Grace and her dress to see if and how her concept develops.


Blest, Lindsey. "Lancaster teen designs dress that reads brainwaves to help mom detect migraines." Lancaster Online. August 29, 2016.