Kids play Wii so doctors can learn more about seizures

More than 300,000 children in the United States suffer from epilepsy. Seizures can strike out of nowhere and cause dangerous episodes of shaking and convulsing.

Treating children with epilepsy can make all the difference, but doctors first need to observe and analyze their seizures. Now, new technology is making that easier for them, and for the kids.

Logan McKechnie, 6, has spent much of her short life in a hospital room.

Logan has cerebral palsy and has suffered seizures since she was two. She's tried medications, a part of her brain has even been removed but seizures have not gone away.

"She's been having seizures about once a week now," says Logan's mother.

Doctors need to record Logan having a seizure before they can recommend a new treatment. That's been a lot easier with a surprising tool: Nintendo's Wii.

Patients play Wii video games to provoke seizures.

"They need to have seizures for us to determine where they're coming from," says. Dr. Angel Hernandez, the Medical Director of Neurology at the Jane and John Justin Neuroscience Center.

The idea is to play hard.

"The most important purpose is to get them tired. We know that if you're very tired, you're more prone to have seizures," explains Dr. Hernandez.

When they do have seizures, the kids are hooked up to a video EEG. It's a device that monitors brain activity as the seizures happen.

With standard EEG, patients had to sit still while hooked up to long cords. With this system, the kids are free to move around, or just sit and watch TV.

"They keep themselves busy, and we get the information that we need and it's an enjoyable time for them," says Dr. Hernandez.

He says with this wireless technology, his staff has been able to observe seizures in at least 25 percent more patients.

Logan's mom's hopes what doctors learn will help them design a surgery plan to stop the seizures, and let Logan get back to just being a kid.

Experts at Cook Children's Medical Center are working on developing a remote video-monitoring EEG system that kids can wear at home.

About 70-percent of the time, doctors don't know why kids have seizures. Seizures are three-times more common in the first year of life.


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