New technology benefits child suffering from severe form of epilepsy

Brittany Brown has watched her daughter, Amaree, 6, struggle with hundreds of seizures every day for the past six years. Yes, hundreds. Every day.

The seizures stunted Amaree's development and prevented her brain from growing or functioning properly. Beaumont Children's Hospital doctors diagnosed the baby girl with infantile spasms. Her condition has now progressed to Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy.

"Few medications are available to control these kinds of epilepsy seizures. Often times, no medications work. Children who do benefit from the drugs initially can later develop a tolerance to the medications," Beaumont Children's Hospital section head, pediatric neurology, Daniel Arndt, M.D., says.

There is no cure for the disorder. However, a new treatment is providing hope. For the first time in six years, the seizures have nearly disappeared.

Dr. Arndt collaborated with Karol Zakalik, M.D., pediatric neurosurgeon, who placed an AspireSR implant in Amaree's chest. The device detects heart rate changes which often spike before seizures. An electrical impulse stimulates the vagus nerve when those changes occur. The impulse can prevent or reduce the strength of the seizure.

"With the device, I don't have to watch her like a hawk. I have a sense of relief that I haven't had in six years. I'm sure she feels the same way. She's suffered for six long years. I take a deeper breath knowing that I finally have help," Brown says.

Amaree's mood has also improved and she's sleeping better now. Brown says she's noticed her daughter is even communicating better with her at their home in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

"I am so thankful for the technology and I hope it is made available to everyone that needs it," Brown adds.

Dr. Arndt checks in with Amaree on a regular basis and makes adjustments to the device to ensure it's functioning properly.

"Just a few years ago, using technology like this to control children's seizures wasn't even on the radar. I'm looking forward to seeing how this device changes children's lives," Dr. Arndt adds.


Beaumont Children's Hospital


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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