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DENVER – One of the third graders at Brown International School in Denver suffers from epilepsy. That’s why all of Vienne Wood’s classmates are learning what to do in case she or anyone else has a seizure.
“Since last October, she’s had close to 3,000 seizures and some of them at school,” Chris Wood, Vienne’s mother, said.
In 2006, Vienne was diagnosed with a rare form of epilepsy called Doose syndrome.
“I had a seizure in the auditorium,” Vienne said. “I didn’t really feel good.”
That’s why Chris Wood worked with the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado to bring its free program called “Seizure Smart Schools” to Brown.
“Number one is to know what to do when somebody has a seizure,” Marcee Peterson, senior program manager at the Epilepsy Foundation, said.
Peterson gives presentations to schools around Colorado to teach kids what different types of seizures may look like and what kids should do if their classmate is having one.
“Cut through the fear about seeing a seizure before they actually see a seizure,” Peterson said.
Chris Wood says this discussion is important for Vienne.
“There’s two things that we need for our daughter,” Wood said. “We need a cure and we need people to talk about it, because it’s worse when people don’t talk about it. It can be scary to see a seizure.”
Peterson teaches kids three main things about witnessing a seizure. Stay calm, time the seizure, and keep the person away from hazards. If a student is having a seizure for more than five minutes, Peterson says call 9-1-1 right away.
“Trying to help people be more accepted for having seizures and not have to feel like they have to keep it a secret or hide it or be ashamed of it,” Peterson said.
She says the program not only focused on what to do but it teaches kids how to act towards classmates with Epilepsy.
“Kids with epilepsy or any disability are at a higher risk of being bullied and not accepted,” Peterson said. “So, the more we can just kind of help them, frame how to be a good friend, we’ve done our job.”
Chris Wood says that type of support is needed for Vienne.
“People that surprised me the most were the children,” Chris Wood said. “They were accepting of her. They continued to play with her, ask for play dates.”
All she wants is for Vienne’s classmates to understand that she is just like everyone else. She just happens to have epilepsy.
“My classmates are really awesome,” Vienne said.
If you want to find out more about the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado’s Seizure Smart Schools program click here: http://www.epilepsycolorado.org/index.php?s=10822&item=34904.
ARTICLE SOURCE: http://www.9news.com/story/news/health/2014/09/03/epilepsy-foundation-teaches-students-seizures/15043137/
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Neurologists implant neurostimulator in brain to control seizures
It has been 30 days since neurologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham turned on the neurostimulator implanted in Sarah Conner’s brain to control her seizures.
In that short time, she can already say, “I’m doing pretty good.”
Conner, 24, has suffered from seizures for 10 years. In June, she became the first patient in the Southeast to receive a new device called a responsive neurostimulator since its approval by the Federal Drug Administration last year.
UAB neurosurgeon Kristen Riley, M.D., implanted the RNS system, developed by NeuroPace, into Conner’s brain. It includes an electrical generator, about the size of a flash drive, which is implanted in the skull. Electrodes are run to the locations in the brain known to cause seizures.
“It is designed to record a patient’s specific brain activity and recognize patterns that are associated with seizures,” said Riley, associate professor in the Department of Neurosurgery. “The RNS system then delivers stimulation in order to help modulate and control the seizures.”
Prior to receiving the RNS system, Conner experienced multiple semi-partial seizures every day, lasting anywhere from 10 seconds to more than a minute. When they hit, she lost all ability to function.
“It affected my motor function and sensory perception,” Conner said. “I couldn’t tell where my hand was, for instance. I couldn’t even do simple functions such as open a door because my body wouldn’t respond. It was as if I’d forgotten how to do it.”
A month after the surgery, UAB neurologist Neil Billeaud, M.D., turned on the device. At a follow-up visit 30 days later, Conner reported dramatic improvement.
“I used to have several seizures every day; but now that I have the stimulator, I get a little flash, maybe once every other day,” she said. “The flash lasts just a second or two and then it’s gone.”
The RNS system is constantly recording Conner’s brain activity, and the data is downloaded to a laptop computer. If Conner says she had a flash last week, Billeaud can pinpoint the specific time and see what brain activity was occurring. As the system learns more about specific patterns that indicate a seizure is likely, Billeaud can tweak the parameters to make the RNS system even more effective in controlling seizures.
Jerzy Szaflarski, M.D., Ph.D., professor in the Department of Neurology and director of the UAB Epilepsy Center, says data from research studies dating back several years indicate that many patients will respond to the stimulation and have significant reduction in their seizures.
“This is not a treatment that will cure epilepsy,” he said. “This is a treatment that will help control seizures in a very specific group of patients who otherwise are not candidates for surgery. I don’t expect too many patients to become seizure-free; but if we can decrease their seizures by even half, we can make huge improvements in their lives.”
Conner agrees. She is working on a degree in elementary education and had episodes in the past in which she had a seizure while student-teaching. The reduction in seizures will give her more independence.
“I’ll be able to do more,” Conner said. “For instance, I’ll be able to drive. I’m 24, and I’ve never driven a car. The big hindrance with the seizures was that, when they hit, I couldn’t function and was unable to do anything. Now I simply feel this flash, and then it goes away without affecting my motor function.”
The RNS system is for patients who have severe seizures but do not respond to medications and are not candidates for surgery because the location of their seizure onset is at a sensitive part of the brain. It is also only for patients whose seizure onset can be traced to just one or two locations in the brain.
“We’re very excited to offer this therapy to our patients who are not candidates for more traditional therapies for epilepsy,” Szaflarski said. “We see multiple patients like that every year, and the RNS system could make a huge difference in the lives of those patients. There is already data to show that the quality of life of those patients has improved significantly with RNS.”