WVU Medicine offering new treatment for epilepsy patients

Health

WVU Medicine is now offering a new treatment for patients who suffer from seizures. 

The SenTiva nerve stimulator is for patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. 

The coin-sized implant is placed under the skin in the chest and connected to nerves in the neck. 

“It stimulates the vagus nerve, which is a nerve that goes through the neck and it connects on one end to the brain and on the other end connects to things like the voice box and the heart,” said WVU Medicine Neurosurgeon Dr. Nicholas Brandmeir. “We know when we stimulate it, it changes the activity to other parts of the brain.” 

When patients feel a seizure coming on, they can activate the device by waving a magnet overtop. It can also be programmed by doctors to constantly stimulate the vagus nerve. 

“It can just work all the time at a constant rate like a pacemaker,” Dr. Brandmeir explained. “In those cases the patient doesn’t have to think about it, they don’t have to know anything and it will just decrease their general seizure rate all the time.” 

It also tracks heart rate and the patients body position, two things commonly associated with seizures. 

WVU Medicine has been using this device since last fall, implanting between two and three each months in patients that are over the age of four. 

Since one-third of patients don’t respond to epilepsy medications, Dr. Brandmeir said this is a life-changing device. 

“Sometimes as many as 60 to 70 percent of those patients will have a reduction in their seizures by a significant amount even after they’ve failed all those drugs, so it’s a big benefit for those patients and can be really life changing for patients who otherwise are just having frequent seizures multiple seizures a week or even a day,” he continued. 

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