Brain Stimulator Offers Hope for Individuals With Uncontrolled Epilepsy


April 22, 2014
Brain & Behavior, Technology

A recently FDA-approved device has been shown to reduce seizures in patients with medication-resistant epilepsy by as much as 50 percent. When coupled with an innovative electrode placement planning system developed by physicians at Rush, the device facilitated the complete elimination of seizures in nearly half of the implanted Rush patients enrolled in the decade-long clinical trials.

That’s good news for a large portion of the nearly 400,000 people in the U.S. living with epilepsy whose seizures can’t be controlled with medications and who are not candidates for brain surgery.

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological condition characterized by recurrent seizures that disrupt the senses, or can involve short periods of unconsciousness or convulsions. “Many people with epilepsy have scores of unpredictable seizures every day that make it impossible for them to drive, work or even get a good night’s sleep,” said Dr. Marvin Rossi, co-principal investigator of the NeuroPace Pivotal Clinical Trial and assistant professor of neurology at the Rush Epilepsy Center.

The NeuroPace RNS System uses responsive, or ‘on-demand’ direct stimulation to detect abnormal electrical activity in the brain and deliver small amounts of electrical stimulation to suppress seizures before they begin.

The device is surgically placed underneath the scalp within the skull and connected to electrodes that are strategically placed within the brain where the seizures originate (called the seizure focus). A programmed computer chip in the skull communicates with the system to record data and to help regulate responsive stimulation.

The unique electrode placement planning modeling systemdeveloped at Rush uses a computer-intensive mapping system that facilitates surgical placement of electrodes at the precise location in the brain’s temporal lobe circuitry. When stimulated, these extensive epileptic circuits are calmed. The modeling system predicts where in the brain the activity begins and spreads, so that the device can better influence the maximal extent of the epileptic pathway.

The device also acts as an implanted EEG for recording brain activity. This function was first shown at Rush to help determine whether the patient will further benefit from a surgical resection, in which surgeons remove a portion of the temporal lobe network. Dr. Richard Byrne, chairman of Neurosurgery at Rush, implants the electrodes in the temporal lobes.

As a result, physicians at Rush can offer patients the new implantable neurostimulator device, a surgical resection or both with the possibility of completely eliminating seizures. “This device is also being used at Rush as a foundation and inspiration for building cutting-edge hybrid stimulation therapy-drug molecule delivery systems,” said Rossi.

“Devices that treat epilepsy may offer new hope to patients when medication is ineffective and resection is not an option,” said Rossi. “Not long ago, it was highly unlikely that these patients would ever be free of their seizures. Now, several of our Rush patients with this device are actually able to drive, lower or even eliminate their medications and aren’t as limited as they once were. There is no doubt that quality of life of the majority of our implanted patients is significantly improved.”




Brain Stimulator Offers Hope for Individuals With Uncontrolled Epilepsy

13 Responses to Brain Stimulator Offers Hope for Individuals With Uncontrolled Epilepsy

  1. 14114497(Charnele Mabunda) May 3, 2014 at 11:28 am #

    I don’t totally with article because even though woman are more sensitive about what the future holds than men they still want a good looking man. Men do live for now and are happy with what they have now and women generally think about the future, they live today for tomorrow. This is the reason why woman are more sensitive in choosing who they want, they are really emotional but honestly woman do also care about his looks. Men might take it more into consideration than woman but woman also want a good looking man and honestly men do also love women who want them and don’t need them. Men also want woman who can look after themselves, infact if further research was conducted they would of realised that men actually want women with a lifestyle that complements theirs. This research was not conducted properly, its approach was not well planned as many aspects are not involved.

  2. Natasha(14007593) May 3, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    This technology will make many peoples’ lives easier and more comfortable. It will also benefit the time the people have with their loved ones. Even if it takes a few years before everyone has access to this technology, it will still bring them hope for the future. This also forms the basis on which research can be improved. I think this will help the surgeons with their patients in the future.

  3. Natasa(14007593) May 3, 2014 at 10:24 am #

    This technology will help so many people, it will make their lives easier and more comfortable. It will even enhance their lives. Even if it will take a few years before all the people have access, it will still provide them some hope for the future. With this and other technology it will place a basis for more research that will better our life and will help surgeons with their patients.

  4. u14092222 April 30, 2014 at 6:02 am #

    Science is making advancements in their research on a daily basis and this is why we can appreciate discoveries such as this. The discovery of finding a way to diagnose epilepsy is one that would be extremely efficient. This way people can be diagnosed early enough so that they learn how to control this disease and not let it control them. However, it did take a long time for it to be approved by the FDA and this changes the timeline for when it will become available to the public. There is also the concept of cost and how this will impact the income of the individuals family. Even though this is great news, there are still a number of unanswered questions regarding this topic and we need to get answers soon.

  5. Stefanie April 30, 2014 at 2:52 am #

    I meant for this era.

  6. Stefanie April 30, 2014 at 2:40 am #

    I think this a exceptionally for era but, if the temporal lobe plays a role in the maintenance of visual memories,treating sensory input, understanding language, storing new memories, emotion, and grasp the meaning of a subject, won’t this effect some of it’s functions if a portion of the temporal lobe network is removed? Also would this device be affordable for locals? And what will happen if the device gets damaged when say for instance external forces have a impact?

  7. Neo Makgabo(14144159) April 29, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

    Reading this articles ,soothes my heart. It’s actually nice to hear that people with epilepsy are getting help . it seems like the brain stimulator can is the best solution, which actually means the struggle will be over for epileptic people.The founders of this device have done a good job.

  8. S.Heuer(u14233802) April 29, 2014 at 2:53 am #

    I am an epileptic myself, so I know the feeling of not having any control of your body or not having any cognitive recognition of your surroundings, and it can be scary at times, so this advancement is highly respected and appreciated by all.

    Hundreds of thousands of people around the world suffer from epilepsy, so new and improved therapies are in high demand. Uncontrolled epilepsy is an illness that either hinders your quality of life and in some cases stops you from living ‘normally’ or it makes how you live your life very sheltered and always alert that something might just happen. So this advancement in the epileptic medical field is huge for the people having to suffer with this. This advanced device seems like it will be able to give people who are hopeless in finding a solution a chance a greater chance at having better control over their lives once more.

    It is amazing how this device has been almost perfectly engineered for such a purposeful and extremely complicated organ of the human body. From the article, it can be seen that this highly advanced mechanism, responsive neurostimulation system, can predict, pinpoint, and help prevent seizures from occurring. Despite having a 50% success rate, thus far, helping only half the number of patients that it has been placed into, is still better than helping none, provided that any failures don’t have harmful or fatal effects. Yet, there is still huge room for advancement and improvement, like the generator life of the device, the progression in technology for improved accurate placement of the device at the source of the seizures and shorter time periods for these successful developments. But all these factors necessitate significant amounts of finances, the scarce source of quality and highly trained expertise and hundreds of devoted hours for the improvement of this device.

    There is no doubt that this is a huge step forward in the advancement of epileptic medicine, procedures and therapies.

  9. Clement Mashaba (14168244) April 27, 2014 at 5:47 am #

    This will surely a breakthrough for many epilepsy patients.

    With the seizures being controllable, epilepsy will be as good as history to the patients.

  10. Nthateng Tsotetsi(14066506) April 26, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

    Science keeps on improving the state of life. It is interesting how the responsive neurostimulation system can detect, predict and prevent seizures form occurring. I believe people with uncontrollable epilepsy will not have to live an arduous life anymore. I also read that there are no side effects to this type of treatment and the replacement for the generator is needed in only about every 11 to 17 months. According to John Miller, director of the University of Washington School of Medicine RNS does not eliminate all seizures in most patients and the way to improve the operation of this device is by improving electrode placement or honing the RNS’s detection process so that it can pick up seizures activity earlier.

  11. Inge Mulder April 26, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    Reading this article I feel optimistic that there will be a brighter future for sufferers of epilepsy. However, this technology took 10 years to get FDA approval and I strongly suspect that it will take many more years where it will become available and affordable for the general public, including epileptics in third world countries. Furthermore, this method of treatment is only 50% effective. It is clear that it is imperative that more advances must be made in this field. However, this will require extortionate sums of money and huge swathes of time, possibly resources that this research team is unable to commit.

    This does that mean, however, that what Rush’s accomplishment isn’t anything short of a marvelous invention that will enrich the lives of hundreds of thousands. For this, sir, I tip my hat to you.

  12. Sibusisiwe(14076463) April 24, 2014 at 4:23 am #

    This is a very good cause. People with epilepsy can now feel comfortable with themselves and this can bring disclosure to family members wondering if their member might have a seizure while nobody is around. I worry about the cost though.

  13. Mamaila Manaka (14070872 April 23, 2014 at 3:33 am #

    Once again “Technology” continues to improve Medical Sciences. Who would ever thought that there would ever be a better strategy for diagnosing Epilepsy. The NeuroPace RNS system proves to be essential in terms of helping people with the condition of Epilepsy. Though it took a while for the invention of the NeuroPace RNS system, its use within the Health Sciences Department will continue to be beneficial. Composed of sensory, motor and connector neurons, the Brain will be able to maintain its state of equilibrium. The concept of Feedback Mechanism and Homeostasis will be constant and operate at their best. Seizures that cause epileptic breakdown will be stopped from occurring within the central nervous system. The enlarged part of the body wont be threatened anymore, this will create simple and better work for Neurosurgeons. I believe that more discoveries and researches will continue to take place and at the same time coming up with ideas that will improve Medical Sciences.

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