(KUTV) Patients with epilepsy suffer from recurrent, unprovoked seizures. When it comes to treatment, the main goal is to improve quality of life through seizure control. There is actually an FDA approved device – in addition to medication – that can help some patients get closer to achieving full seizure control.
Beth Miller had her very first seizure when she was 9-months-old, but it wasn’t diagnosed with epilepsy until she was 21-years-old. After being diagnosed, she began searching for treatment options.
“The majority of patients with epilepsy are able to achieve full seizure control with antiepileptic medication,” says Dr. Tawnya Constantino, Medical Director of the Epilepsy Program at Intermountain Medical Center Neurosciences.
Unfortunately, up to 16% of patients still stuffer seizures while on medication. For those individuals, like Beth, there are a few other options.
“We don’t have a lot of additional options, but some of the options we have can be very, very helpful in addition to medication which remains the mainstay of epilepsy care,” says Dr. Constantino.
One treatment option is an implantable, responsive neurostimulator (RNS). This device is implanted in the head and programed to watch for seizure activity. If it detects a seizure, the device will stimulate that specific area of the brain through the electro-contacts that are implanted.
“The median seizure reduction with this device at 7 years of implantation is 80%,” says Dr. Constantino.
Beth has only had the device for a few months, but says so far she feels a lot better, her voice isn’t as shaky, and she feels for confident in herself.
“What’s great about this device is once it’s in, people don’t feel it. They don’t have to tell it to do anything, and it just helps them to have better seizure control,” says Dr. Constantino.
The RNS device is not an instant fix. It can take several months (or more) to fine tune the simulation settings to make sure they are in the best place for that particular patient.