NATIONAL - Many patients with epilepsy can control their seizures using medication, but not everyone. Now there's a seizure stopper under study that may help patients with difficult-to-control epilepsy.
Family time is a priority for Paul Herzog, especially since many parts of his life are interrupted by epilepsy. "The way my seizures go, I mean sometimes I'm scared to walk down the road or ride a bike because you don't know what's going to happen when I have a seizure."
Looking for options, he recently had an investigational device implanted in his brain. "When it notices that abnormal electrical impulse that the seizures give out, it will give a jolt of electricity to that area of the brain and hopefully it will intercept the seizure and prevent it from starting."
That's the theory behind the Neuropace Brain Stimulator, programmed to sense, then stop, a seizure. Dr. Michael J. Berg says, "So the idea is that we want to stop the seizure, disrupt the seizure, right at the beginning of it."
Wire leads target the sites where seizures originate. By "tuning-in" to abnormal electrical activity, the device can identify a seizure and emit a low-level impulse to stop it.
Dr. Berg says, "I mean, it is detecting brain waves in real time, analyzing them and spitting out inside of itself a little, um, answer, is this a seizure, is this not a seizure, for every, uh, you know, 100th of a second."
For Paul, the chance to short-circuit his seizures is one he couldn't pass up. "And I'm like, where do I sign?"
Hopeful that the device will stop those seizures.
This is a randomized study, meaning that some patients won't have the stimulator turned on initially. This will help determine if the device performs in the way the developers expect: to stop seizures even before patients notice them. Eventually, all patients will have the Neuropace device activated.