Better Seizure Treatment?

Published 07/28 2014 01:55PM

Updated 07/28 2014 05:45PM

More than 2-million Americans must take medicine or undergo major surgery to prevent seizures. But now researchers say new therapies for epilepsy are on the horizon.

Hunter McGarvey had frequent seizures until surgeons removed 3 lobes of his brain a little over a year ago. Recently, the 10-year-old Blair County boy celebrated being seizure-free for one year.

Doctors at Cleveland Clinic are studying less invasive ways to stop seizures. 
They've used an experimental technology called SEEG on almost 300 patients

“It’s a technology to help us in locating, knowing where, where is the area in the brain, where the seizures may be coming from.”  Imad Najm, MD, Director of the Epilepsy Center at the Cleveland Clinic said.

Electrodes in the brain record seizure activity. Once the area is identified, doctors can use lasers to ablate it instead of major surgery to remove it.

“So without making any major changes, we remove the electrode, we put in another probe, we ablate the focus and we put it back.” Dr. Najm explained.

Another advance is the recently FDA approved responsive neuro-stimulator. The device is implanted in the skull and records electrical activity in the brain. When it detects a seizure, it delivers electrical pulses to intercede.

“For the first time, we have a device that is smart enough to record, detect and do something about the seizure on the spot.”  Dr. Najm said.

Patients with epilepsy should try medication first, but studies show between 40 and 50 percent continue to experience seizures or suffer major side effects. The neuro-stimulator device was approved for seizures last November.

Dr. Najm says patients who aren’t typically candidates for surgery may be eligible for this device. He says the laser therapies are still considered experimental.

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