Therapeutic devices for epilepsy

Published on May 3, 2011 Updated on February 20, 2021   30 min

A selection of talks on Neuroscience

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Thank you for joining us for a talk about therapeutic devices for epilepsy.
I have some disclosures to make, in that I do consulting and have stock options with NeuroVista (a seizure prediction company), SmartMonitor (a seizure detection company), and ICVRx (a company that is developing technology to infuse drug directly into the cerebrospinal fluid). I have no conflicts of interest with Medtronic or any brain stimulation company.
Epilepsy is one of the most prevalent serious neurological diseases. Seizures, as you can see from this list, can strike people at any age and any station of life.
Treatment of epilepsy is successful in about two-thirds of patients. Half respond to traditional antiepileptic drugs, about another 10 percent will respond to the newer antiepileptic medications, and five percent are candidates for surgery to remove the seizure focus.
This leaves about a third of the population of people with epilepsy whose seizures are uncontrolled, or whose medication side-effects are so toxic as to preclude a good quality of life. This absolute number of people with uncontrolled epilepsy is greater than those with all brain tumors or all multiple sclerosis patients. Even though we may have many existing therapies, epilepsy is far from being a solved problem.
In addition to medicine and surgery, uncontrolled seizures are sometimes treated with a special diet (called the ketogenic diet), with biofeedback, with alternative or complementary medicine therapies, and with medical devices. Devices do not cure epilepsy, but they may help to control otherwise refractory seizures. We will focus in this talk on therapeutic devices, as opposed to diagnostic devices such as EEG, MRI, or PET scans.