Epilepsy Patients Are Given New Hope With Brain Implant

December 9, 2009 by John Messina, Medical Xpress weblog
The device can detect abnormal electrical activity that precedes a seizure, and respond with a specific pattern of electrical jolts. Credit: Neuropace

(PhysOrg.com) -- A startup company, Neuropace in Mountain View Ca., has developed a device that offers new hope for epilepsy patients. The device is designed to neutralize the abnormal electrical activity in the region of the brain that causes seizures.

About 30 to 50 percent of epilepsy patients have trouble controlling their seizures with medication. This represents hundreds of thousands of patients in the U.S. alone.

A clinical trial was conducted on approximately 200 epilepsy patients who failed to respond to medication. The device was able to reduce the seizure frequency by 29 percent. This equates to approximately 100 patients seeing a 50 percent or greater reduction in seizure frequency.

The device is implanted into a hallowed out part of the skull and is approximately the size of a small deck of cards. Wires are placed on the surface of the brain or in the , depending where the seizures originate from. Prior to surgery, brain imaging, EEG () or ECoG (electrocorticography) is used to record in order to determine the area of the brain the originate from.

A study has shown that the procedure and device are relatively safe. A few patients have suffered from infections or bleeding which are consistently lower with similar procedures. A major benefit is that patients don't suffer from drug side effects that are common with many medications.

Once the device has been implanted, the patients need to go through optimization period where the doctor needs to program the device to recognize a seizure pattern and provide a particular pattern of electrical impulse that counter acts the electrical pattern of the seizure.

A patient waves a wand over her head to download data recorded by the Neuropace device before and after stimulation. (Credit: Neuropace)

Patients also need to learn to how to wave a wand over their head, where the implant is located, and download data recorded before and after brain stimulation. This data provides doctors with information to see how well the device is working and make any necessary adjustments.

Neurosurgeons are confident of the device's potential in determining the onset of a seizure and providing the necessary electrical impulse pattern to counter act the seizure. With time, patients and doctors will understand the effectiveness of the device and harness its full potential.

Additional information: Neuropace

Via: Technology Review
© 2009 PhysOrg.com

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Research reveals atomic-level changes in ALS-linked protein

January 18, 2018
For the first time, researchers have described atom-by-atom changes in a family of proteins linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a group of brain disorders known as frontotemporal dementia and degenerative diseases ...

Fragile X finding shows normal neurons that interact poorly

January 18, 2018
Neurons in mice afflicted with the genetic defect that causes Fragile X syndrome (FXS) appear similar to those in healthy mice, but these neurons fail to interact normally, resulting in the long-known cognitive impairments, ...

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night

January 17, 2018
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus ...

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brain

January 17, 2018
University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists have tracked the progress of a thought through the brain, showing clearly how the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain coordinates activity to help us act in response ...

Midbrain 'start neurons' control whether we walk or run

January 17, 2018
Locomotion comprises the most fundamental movements we perform. It is a complex sequence from initiating the first step, to stopping when we reach our goal. At the same time, locomotion is executed at different speeds to ...

Miles Davis is not Mozart: The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently

January 16, 2018
Keith Jarret, world-famous jazz pianist, once answered in an interview when asked if he would ever be interested in doing a concert where he would play both jazz and classical music: "No, that's hilarious. [...] It's like ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Simonsez
not rated yet Dec 09, 2009
I am surprised that something as large as what is depicted in the image does not itself cause seizures (or other brain "discomfort")! I would think potential receivers of this implant would wait until the technology has been made a bit smaller... having them make a "hallowed out part of the skull" sounds terribly unnecessary.
Mr_Frontier
not rated yet Dec 09, 2009
Beats getting a seizure crossing a side walk, on a flight of stairs, or driving a car, etc. Whose brain might be hallowed out more, statistically? The one in the car-turned-swerving-ballistic, or the one with the reduced chance of symptoms with a fine-tunable implant? When someone is desperate enough for a try at a normal life, waited long enough, and suffered long enough, some additional risks and modifications are irrelevant.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.