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Epilepsy Treated with Implanted Devices

NS is that a small electrical discharge, less than that of a battery across your thumb, will be enough to stop a seizure," Fountain said.

UVa neurologists are also participating in a clinical trial of a deep brain stimulation (DBS) device manufactured by Medtronic, Inc. to treat epilepsy. DBS is currently being used to treat people with Parkinson's Disease. In DBS, surgeons implant a wire in a deep part of the brain that sends signals to the part of the brain-the thalmus-- that produces most epileptic seizures. "We are confident that DBS is safe for people with epilepsy since it is now being used on older people with Parkinson's. They do well with a low complication rate," Fountain said.

These two devices-RNS and DBS- could offer new, potential treatment for patents with epilepsy without a lot of other treatment options, especially those whose seizures aren't controlled by drugs and who aren't good surgical candidates. Patients who have epileptic seizures after using one drug tend to continue to have them on another, Fountain said.

As for what causes one person to get epilepsy and another not? Fountain and other neurologists say a specific cause remains a mystery. But they do know that people who have had brain tumors, brain trauma, a neurological infection or a genetic predisposition to epilepsy are more likely to be diagnosed with the condition.



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