Health Beat: Stopping seizures

Health Beat: Stopping seizures

CLEVELAND - For 20 years, Jeff Martig experienced seizures that would strike anytime and anywhere.

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

Martig 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 SEEG on almost 300 patients.

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

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.

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

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," Najm said.

New ways doctors are helping patients like Martig live seizure-free.

"I'm a brand new person. It's amazing!" Martig said.

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.

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

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