New Epilepsy Treatment

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- More than two million Americans have epilepsy, a brain condition marked by unprovoked, sudden seizures. For some patients, medication or even surgery can help.

Twenty year old Amanda Mullen is opening a brand new chapter. Amanda suffered a stroke in her mother's womb. From there, she suffered seizures just about every week of her life.

Mullen explained, "Like where am I? I didn't know where I was. The students in grade school were calling me names."

All the while, one of Amanda's doctors was working to develop a "road map" of her brain.

Marvin A. Rossi, MD, PhD, Associate Professor and Epilepsy Neurologist at Rush University Medical Center told Ivanhoe, "She had been very challenging because we could not clearly identify her highway or circuitry."

Then, success; Dr. Rossi developed an electro lead placement planning system. This was a first- ever method for finding the "on-ramps" to the brain's pathways, leading to the precise areas that can be stimulated with electrodes.

The stimulation comes from a newly FDA- approved device called the Neuropace system which was implanted in Amanda's skull. It works like a pacemaker or heart defibrillator that monitors brain activity and delivers stimulation when needed.

Julie Edwards, Amanda's mother, told Ivanhoe, "I see her as seizure-free, and I understand parents want to believe that, but I really do believe that we have data that shows that this works."

For now, Amanda's seizures have dwindled to about two per month. She's closer than ever to her life-long dream of a seizure-free trip to Paris.

The FDA approved Neuropace in November of 2013. The best candidates for it are adult patients who suffer seizures in up to two "fixed" locations in the brain, rather than in "random" places. Those "fixed" location patients who are medication- resistant make up about 20 to 30 percent of all patients with epilepsy.


BACKGROUND: Epilepsy is a neurological disorder where nerve cell activity in the brain is disturbed, resulting in seizures. One in 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point in their lives. People are typically diagnosed with epilepsy if they have had at least one seizure and are likely to have more seizures that aren't provoked or caused by another treatable medical condition, like an infection or diabetes. Seizures are temporary changes in behavior that are caused by problems with the electrical and chemical activity of the brain. Although most of the time the causes are unknown an epileptic seizure may be caused by injury to the brain, infection, or genetics. (Source:

SYMPTOMS: Seizures present different symptoms depending on the type of seizure and part of the brain involved. Seizures also affect different people in different ways. Symptoms include:

Blacking out

Passing out

Feeling detached or confused

Unable to speak

Making garbled sounds

Blinking a lot


Dilated pupils

Although most of the time seizures may occur without warning, some people may experience an "aura" or warning that includes strange or negative feelings or panic, racing thoughts and dj vu. (Source:

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Marvin A. Rossi, MD, PhD, Associate Professor at Rush Epilepsy Center in Chicago was able to develop a "road map" of Amanda's brain when her frequent medication- resistant seizures were not improved with recent brain surgery. This was a first-ever method for finding the "on-ramps" to the brain's seizing pathways, leading to the precise areas to stimulate with two electrode leads. Rossi also said "This electrode guidance system provides a means to simulate positioning electrodes in the brain for influencing potentially extensive epileptic pathways." This NeuroPace system has the potential to significantly help with the number of seizures an epileptic patient experiences. (Source: Marvin A Rossi, MD, PhD) MORE.


Fiona Lynn
Rush Epilepsy Center
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