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Deep brain stimulation cuts childhood epilepsy seizures by 80%

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A teenager who is the first patient to take part in a clinical trial to use deep brain stimulation (DBS) to treat epilepsy has seen his daytime seizures reduce by 80 per cent.

Oran, who had been having severe epileptic seizures for eight years and often needed resuscitation, was the first child in the UK to have this device implanted at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) in October 2023, when he was 12 years old.

Now eight months on, his seizures have dramatically reduced in frequency and severity thanks to the device.

Martin Tisdall is Honorary Associate Professor at UCL and Consultant Paediatric Neurosurgeon at GOSH.

He said: “Every single day we see the life-threatening and life-limiting impacts of uncontrollable epilepsy.

“It can make school, hobbies or even just watching a favourite TV show utterly impossible.

“For Oran and his family, epilepsy completely changed their lives and so to see him riding a horse and getting his independence back is absolutely astounding.

“We couldn’t be happier to be part of their journey.”

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) is a treatment involving surgery to insert a small device which stimulates specific parts of the brain.

Unlike other DBS devices which are mounted on the chest with wires running up the neck to the brain, this device is mounted on the skull meaning the leads are less likely to break or erode as the child grows.

This device is also rechargeable through wearable headphones, which can be used while watching a video or interacting with a tablet.

This also means it does not require surgery to replace it every three to five years.

The device targets the thalamus, which is a hub for electrical signals in the brain.

It is hoped that the device will block electrical pathways and consequently stop seizures from spreading.

The device also has settings for optimisation towards seizure patterns, which although not utilised in this trial, could be used in the future for patients with LGS.

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