Electrical Stimulation for Epilepsy

Electrical Stimulation for Epilepsy

Some seizure sufferers who haven’t found relief from their anti-seizure medications or other therapies may benefit from innovative devices that electrically stimulate the brain.

NeuroPace’s RNS System, approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2013 for ages 18 and older, works for the brain like a pacemaker works for the heart. An implanted stimulator connects directly with the brain to monitor and respond to abnormal brain activity, delivering pulses of electrical stimulation to help brainwaves return to normal.

Neurologist Marvin A. Rossi, MD, PhD, of Rush University Medical Center, says more than half of his patients with the RNS System have seen a reduction in seizure frequency by at least 50 percent.

What’s exciting about this technology isn’t just what it can do for patients and their quality of life, but what it means for the future, Rossi says. “It offers a platform to build future technologies and advancements in direct brain modulation therapy.”

One such technology, Medtronic’s Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) therapy, gained FDA approval in April 2018 for reducing the frequency of partial-onset seizures in those who haven’t responded to epilepsy medications. In DBS therapy, a neurostimulator device is programmed to deliver electrical pulses to the brain to stop or lessen seizures.

Direct neuromodulation of brain circuits has been found to aid other conditions as well, such as movement disorders like Parkinson’s disease. DBS research is ongoing for medically resistant major depression and other neurological conditions, including some forms of post-traumatic stress disorder.