Health Watch - New Hope For Seizures

January 13, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- Epilepsy is described as an uncontrollable storm in the brain that can cause seizures. Common treatment options are medication or surgery to remove the part of the brain causing the seizures. Now, a brand new device is being tested that may stop seizures in their tracks.Heidi Cline pedals more than 35 miles a week to work and school. She doesn't drive a car because she has epilepsy.

"I'd like to think no, I'm not going to have a seizure, but I can't guarantee that, and I don't want to put other people at risk," Cline says.

Patricia Elenburg may hold the answer for Cline.  She also suffers from epilepsy.

"I stiffen up, and I bite the inside of my mouth and salivate a lot and moan," Elenburg says.

But something implanted in her brain may stop her seizures. The Responsive Neurostimulator, or RNS, detects abnormal activity in Elenburg's brain and sends out electrical impulses to stop a seizure from happening.

"The wires, electrodes, could come out from this device, be placed in that very important area and can actually send an impulse at the time a seizure is beginning," says William Bell, M.D., a neurologist at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.

RNS reaches parts of the brain that cannot be safely removed by surgery. That's why the device is so important for people like Elenburg.

"If we would have taken out a large area of her left frontal lobe, it could have affected her speech," says Dr. Bell.

The breakthrough could have an impact on more than 3 million people living with epilepsy.

"I'd like to think there's a miracle out there ? they just haven't found it," Cline says.

Maybe they have.

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, which offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, click on: http://www.ivanhoe.com/newsalert/.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Rae Bush
Public Relations
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
(336) 716-6878


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