News 9 MD: New technology can help stop seizures

News 9 MD: New technology can help stop seizures

(WTVM) - Epilepsy is a chronic neurological condition that affects more than two-and-a-half million Americans.

Uncontrollable seizures plague their lives and the only treatments were drugs and major surgery... but there are new therapies are on the horizon.

Jeff Martig suffered from seizures that would strike anytime and anywhere for 20 years.

"I was having about 30 a day," Martig said. "I'd feel a sensation in my nose, my left side of my face would twitch, and then I would start gasping for air."

Jeff had surgery to remove part of his brain. Doctors at the Cleveland Clinic are studying less invasive ways to stop seizures.

They've used an experimental technology called S. E. E. G on almost 300 patients.

"It's a technology for, to help us in locating, knowing where, the area, where is the area in the brain, where the seizures may be coming from," said Dr. Imad Najm, Epilepsy Center Director.

Electrodes in the brain record seizure activity. Once the area is identified, doctors can use lasers to ablate it instead of major surgery to remove it.

"Therefore without making any major changes, we remove the electrode, we put another probe, we ablate the focus and we put it back."

Another advance is the recently FDA approved responsive neuro-stimulator. The device is implanted in the skull and records electrical activity in the brain. When it detects a seizure, it delivers electrical pulses to intercede.

"For the first time, we have a device that is smart enough to record, detect and do something about the seizure on the spot."

These new ways are helping doctors help patients like Jeff live seizure-free.

"It's like a brand new person. It's amazing!"

Patients with epilepsy should try medication first, but studies show between 40 and 50 percent continue to experience seizures or suffer major side effects.

The neuro-stimulator device was approved for seizures last November.

The doctor says patients who aren't typically candidates for surgery may be eligible for this device.  He says the laser therapies are still considered experimental.

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