The epilepsy world is being rocked by the introduction of newer epilepsy treatment methods that are having a great impact on patients with intractable epilepsy. People who have this type of epilepsy continue to have seizures even with the administration of medication or other types of treatment. Some are wracked by convulsions daily, leaving them exhausted and unable to enjoy normal activities. For children, this means that learning comes much more slowly, sometimes stopping altogether, and in severe cases even regressing and losing skills they had once possessed. For adults, the ability to drive and hold down a job are just a few of the abilities that most of us take for granted, but those with intractable epilepsy cannot enjoy.
The newest and most exciting treatment for childhood epilepsy is a derivative of marijuana, in oil form. This is high in the medicinal quality that marijuana contains, and very low in the psychoactive component that causes a high. This oil is making huge strides toward eradicating seizures in children who experienced them daily before beginning this particular epilepsy treatment. Currently available only in Colorado, many states are jumping on the bandwagon and passing laws that will allow kids with epilepsy to receive this life-saving oil.
For adults who suffer from severe epilepsy, there is new hope on the horizon. The Food and Drug Administration has just approved the RNS System for epilepsy, a device implanted into the skull that helps to reduce seizures by sensing and recording electrical brain activity, and delivering electrical stimulation where the seizures are expected to originate. The RNS System is intended to stop the erratic brain activity before the person experiences a seizure.
According toThe New York Times, the battery-powered device is implanted into the skull, with wires threaded into the brain, and tracks electrical activity, quelling seizures. This includes a type of wand that is held to the epilepsy patient’s head and downloads brain data onto a laptop. Once downloaded, the doctors are able to review the information.
Dr. Dileep R. Nair, head of adult epilepsy at the Cleveland Clinic, says he believes this is the first in a new generation of treatment for epilepsy. “It’s delivering local therapy. It’s not taking tissue out; the brain is left intact. And it’s unlike a drug, which is a shotgun approach.”
No matter if you are the parent of a child with epilepsy, or an adult who has epilepsy, it is exciting to note that new epilepsy therapies are becoming available. Although both methods still have a way to go before becoming mainstream, the evidence so far is very hopeful for those who live with epilepsy.
[Image courtesy of Web MD]