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AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 2, 2018

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Stimulating the Epileptic Brain Breaks Up Neural Networks to Prevent Seizures

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Responsive neurostimulation (RNS) treats epilepsy by detecting seizures and intervening with a jolt of electric current. Over time, most patients find their seizures become fewer and further between. Now, for the first time, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC have a better understanding of why this happens. 

New evidence suggests RNS can remodel the brain to be less susceptible to seizures. Using patients’ brain signatures as a guide, the researchers hope to rapidly optimize the use of neurostimulation to help more people achieve seizure reduction.

“Right now, in epilepsy patients treated with responsive neurostimulation, you just have to wait and see whether their seizure frequency goes down,” said Mark Richardson, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of neurological surgery at Pitt’s School of Medicine and director of epilepsy and movement disorders surgery at UPMC. “We don’t have a great way to predict who will respond. But there’s so much more data recorded on these RNS devices than we currently have the ability to analyze.” 

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