Vagal Nerve Stimulation for Epilepsy Video

Neurologist Dr. Marie Atkinson, from Detroit Medical Center, Harper University Hospital and Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan, explains how a vagal nerve stimulator (VNS) device is used in an effort to stop epileptic s...
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Vagal Nerve Stimulation for Epilepsy Jenny: My eight-year old and my three-year old have both been diagnosed with epilepsy. They don’t have the violent seizures but sometimes they just give a blank stare, almost like they’re a danger in you but they don’t remember anything afterwards. I’ve done a lot of research online and I heard about this new treatment called VNS. Do you think this could possibly help my daughters? Dr. Travis Stork: We have Jenny in our audiences along with Neurologist, Doctor Marie Atkinson from DMC, Harper University Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. And I want to thank both of you all for being here. Dr. Marie Atkinson: Thank you. Dr. Travis Stork: So Dr. Atkinson, let’s talk about vagal nerve stimulators, how they work first of all? Dr. Marie Atkinson: Well basically vagal nerve stimulator is a device used to try to stop seizures and folks they have very hard resistant to control epilepsy and there is some animation I can show you how it works. Travis Stork: That’d be great. Marie Atkinson: This is a device that’s actually implanted in the chest wall of the patient and the wire that’s connected. So that’s the device that sends an electrical signal through the wire to stimulate the Vagus nerve. The Vagus nerve is actually has a connections with the brain. This is the device that I actually use to program in and basically, what it does is the device sense intermittently throughout the day, a pulsed electrical signal to the Vagus nerve to stimulate it to try to stop seizures. It can prevent seizure from even coming on and for folks who are actually actively having a seizure it can make the seizure less severe or shorter in duration. Travis Stork: So is this something Jenny should consider for her daughter? Marie Atkinson: Well, in United States the VNS is not approved for children less Dr. than 12 years of age. However, a lot of epilepsy centers do use an off-label because of research studies that had been done in Europe, in Canada, in Australia where it is proved irrespective of age and has shown efficacy and tolerability in small children. So any epilepsy center that’s comfortable with using the VNS would have no problem if her children met criteria to place the vagal nerve stimulator in them. Dr. Travis Stork: And does the magnet really work because apparently there’s a magnet that the patient could place on the device if they feel seizure coming out which, a lot of people you can’t -- you don’t know if a seizure is going to come on or not. Dr. Marie Atkinson: All right, so this is what the magnet looks like. You actually are given two of this when you get the vagal nerve stimulator place and for a lot of folks they do actually feel their seizures coming on. They have like a warning before the seizure comes on. In addition to that some folks who have really bad epilepsy, they’re being taken cared off by other family members. So if they see them having a seizure they can take the magnet, place it against the generator that lies in their chest actually on this side. Place it there and it actually activates the magnet to give an additional pulse of electrical stimulation to the Vagus nerve. Almost like what you would use in the ER with a dose of Ativan to stop the seizure. You should give an extra dose of electrical signal. And it’s been shown, sometimes it stops the seizure right there, then in there when it’s attracts that other times if it doesn’t stop it, it’ll make the seizure really shorter, less severe and it kind of gives the patient who didn’t have a choice. She has to fight their seizure themselves. Now, they have an option. I can do something about my seizures that I can’t do before. Dr. Lisa Masterson: Yeah. This answer maybe similar to Jims but basically, how about with pregnant women hasn’t been tried the other round. Dr. Marie Atkinson: There had been too, women that I know, have done studies that actually had -- they had epilepsy. They got pregna

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