SOUTH BEND, Ind.--- Uncontrollable seizures plague the lives of those with Epilepsy.
It's a chronic neurological condition that affects more than 2.5 million Americans.
To help patients, doctors in the past relied on drugs and major surgeries.
Now, they have other, less invasive options, thanks to the success of several new therapies.
Jeff Martig suffered from seizures for 20 years.
“I was having about 30 a day,” said Jeff.
They would strike anytime and anywhere.
"I'd feel a sensation in my nose, my left side of my face would twitch, and then I would start gasping for air," said Jeff.
Jeff had surgery to remove part of his brain.
Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic are studying less invasive ways to stop seizures.
They've used an experimental technology called S.E.E.G on almost 300 patients.
"It's a technology that helps us locate affected areas so that we know the area in the brain where the seizures may be coming from,” said Dr. Imad Najm, Director of the Epilepsy Center at the Cleveland Clinic.
Electrodes in the brain record seizure activity during the procedure.
Once the area is identified doctors can use lasers to ablate it, instead of major surgery to remove it.
"Therefore without making any major changes, we remove the electrode, we put another probe, we ablate the focus and we put it back," said Dr. Najm.
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," said Dr. Najm.
Patients with epilepsy should try medication first, but research shows that roughly half of those with the condition still suffer from seizures despite their drugs.
Some medications also have major side effects like memory loss and blurred vision.
Patients have been able to use the Neuro-Stimulator, since last November.
This device typically gets used on people, when surgery isn't an option.
New ways doctors are helping patients like Jeff live seizure free.
"It's like I am a brand new person. It's amazing," said Jeff.
TOPIC: Stopping Seizures
EPILEPSY: Epilepsy is a chronic condition that affects the human brain and can cause seizures. Most people with epilepsy suffer from more than just one type of seizure and may have other neurological problems. Epilepsy is diagnosed when a person has more than two seizures that aren't caused by a known medical condition. An epileptic seizure occurs when there is an excess of abnormal neuronal activity in the brain. Epilepsy is different from a seizure in that a seizure is a single event, whereas epilepsy is a disease that can cause multiple seizures in a particular timespan. (Source: www.epilepsy.com)
CAUSES: There is no single identifiable cause for approximately half of all who suffer from epilepsy. In others, epilepsy can be traced to a few known factors such as genetics, head trauma, prenatal injury and brain conditions. When brain conditions like a tumor or stroke cause damage to the brain, it can lead to epilepsy. Some cases of epilepsy can also be caused by developmental conditions like autism. (Source: www.mayoclinic.org)
TREATMENTS: To control the symptoms of epilepsy, many patients turn to anticonvulsant medications. Some common drugs used to treat epilepsy are Valium, Mysoline and Zarontin. When prescribing the drug, doctors must take into account the frequency and severity of the patient's epileptic seizures. Generally, these medications control the symptoms of epilepsy in 70 percent of patients. (Source: www.webmd.com/epilepsy)
NEW TECHNOLOGY: The newly developed SEEG test uses electrodes in the brain to identify the source of epileptic seizures. Once the source is identified, doctors use lasers to remove the problem area. On top of this new test, a new device called a Responsive Neuro-Stimulator can actually use electrical pulses to stimulate the brain and eliminate a seizure before it ever starts. Neurologists implant the device into the skull which can detect and record the brain's EEG. If symptoms of a seizure begin to occur, the stimulator sends electrical pulses to disrupt the activity. (Source: www.epilepsy.com)
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