Brain pacemaker reduces seizures in patients (featuring Board Member – Dr. Tarek Zakaria)
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. – Spider-man was a lucky guy – one bite from an eight-legged creature gave him superpowers.
When a brown spider bit Krystle Thrasher, 29, it caused five years of debilitating seizures.
“I get very confused after,” Thraser said, describing the seizures. “I get tired, exhausted and it’s not just one, I have clusters. I feel like a zombie.”
Medications didn’t stop Thrasher’s seizures, and she wasn’t a candidate for surgery because so much of her brain was affected.
A few months ago, Thrasher’s doctors at Memorial Healthcare offered her a new option – a pacemaker for the brain from a company called NeuroPace.
It works by placing wire electrodes deep in the area of the brain where the seizures begin. Then doctors remove a small part of the skull and implant a tiny microprocessor attached to wires.
The device monitors electrical activity in the brain 24 hours a day.
When the NeuroPace device senses there is abnormal electrical activity that is going to cause a seizure, it sends an impulse to the specific area of the brain where the electrode is located and delivers a shock to the neurons, which stops the seizure, Dr. Christopher DeMassi, a neurosurgeon with Memorial Healthcare, said.
The patient never feels a thing, but doctors can clearly see in scans how seizures are stopped right in their tracks.
“That’s the main thing,” Dr. Tarek Zakaria, a neurologist with Memorial Healthcare, said. “We want to prevent seizures…we want to put patients back to driving and life and have them independent again.”
Studies show that patients have a 50 percent reduction in seizures after one year and 70 percent after two years, and 20 percent become completely seizure-free.
Thrasher is one of the lucky ones — she hasn’t had a seizure since she had the brain pacemaker put in.
“It’s life-changing, it’s the best part of the job,” she said. “My life is back. My freedom is back. I have nothing holding me. I can do whatever I want.”
And what she wants the most is more carefree time with her family without fear of a seizure.
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