Not Your Average Headache Doctor: Abouch Krymchantowski


A lean, darkly handsome and highly personable man notable for his good humor and obvious intelligence, it’s difficult not to admire and respect Dr. Abouch Krymchantowski. On any given day, Dr. Krymchantowski can be found caring for headache patients in his clinic in Ipanema or piloting a helicopter on a mission to rescue wounded police officers in his native city, Rio de Janeiro.

Helicopters aside, Dr. Krymchantowski is a highly accomplished neurologist with an international reputation for his expertise in the subspecialty of headache medicine.

During a typically busy day he graciously found time to discuss why he chose this particular professional path and how he balances his passions for medicine and for action.

Why neurology? Why headache?

“When I started my residency training at the Naval Hospital in Rio de Janeiro, I initially intended to become a neurosurgeon. Because it seemed to me that too many surgeries were involving the spine, and because I’d always loved the science of the brain, I switched to a residency in neurology. As I gained experience as a neurologist, I found headache to be a neurologic disorder where one could really help people. Unlike neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or demyelinating diseases like multiple sclerosis, for example, well-informed treatment literally could change the life of a migraine patient. By the end of my first year of neurology training I had begun to focus on headache as my subspecialty area of interest, and that interest has persisted for the past 35 years.”



Why helicopters?

“I’ve always liked action, and both police work and military life have always appealed to me. When I left the Navy, I decided to join the Military Police (MP) of Rio, the ‘police on the streets’. I went through the selection process and training to become a Lieutenant Physician of the MP, but…I also always loved helicopters. In 1995, immediately after the International Headache Society meeting in Toronto, I traveled to Fort Lauderdale and completed a helicopter pilot training program.

At that time, however, the Rio Police did not have an aviation unit. I consequently devoted much of my time with to rescuing policemen wounded in action, and I worked to create a group formally responsible for performing that function. In 2009 I was asked to develop an aerial police service. I accepted, but only on the condition that I be one of the operational pilots. Since 2011 I’ve flown more than 800 hours involving all kinds of missions. Included have been missions devoted to rescuing wounded policemen: 134 officers in 2017 and more than 50 so far this year.” See Dr. Krymchantowski in action as a helicopter pilot for the Brazilian police in the video below.

For those of us fortunate enough to be his friend or patient, this dynamic individual has managed to blend his passion for action and adventure with an impressively strong sense of social responsibility. Dr. Krymchantowski is not your average headache subspecialist.

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