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VNS Therapy for Epilepsy

Updated on May 25, 2018
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Sara has been a Freelance Writer and Editor since 2007, currently in Cincinnati, OH. With a lifelong dream of writing this is it for her!

Is there a way to move beyond prescriptions for epilepsy?

While this sounds like a lot of acronyms for the title of an article, something sparked my interest in this topic… the fact that I have been plagued with the troubles of epilepsy for well over 20 years now. There has never been a clear diagnosis on what type of seizures I have, solid proof of what portion of the brain in which they occur, and if my prescriptions actually work. For years I have moved back and forth from one neurologist to another, hoping that I would receive better testing, patient care and concern for what would actually prevent my seizures. However, it seems like all doctors simply want to prescribe the most recently developed medication and keep me on it until something newer comes along, no matter how horrible the side effects, how many seizures I keep having, or even the number of near-death car accidents I am involved in.

So... This Treatment Drew My Attention, Especially if I WantLong-Term Effects

I finally decided a few years ago to track down a local neurologist who would listen to what I was asking for and prescribe the medication that actually worked for me for the first seven years after my diagnosis as a teenager. Then, in a recent conversation I was talking with someone at an event and there was a mention of an implanted device that was designed to help control seizures. And here we have it: VNS Therapy. The basic idea is that there is less (or possibly no) need for prescriptions, as this implanted device delivers impulses to the vagus nerve at the base of the brain stem. These pulses are sent throughout the day, briefly, to help continuously prevent seizures. In this case there can still be the assistance of medication to help with the steady control of epilepsy and keeping all seizures in check.

There are three different forms of VNS Therapy for epilepsy, and any of them only require about a one-hour outpatient procedure for implantation. There is the standard option which works to prevent seizures before they occur. Then, there is the Detect & Respond model which can detect an increase in heartbeat, indicating the initiation of a seizure, followed by a quick blast of therapy to resolve a seizure. The final option is the Magnet Mode which provides you or another caregiver the option to stop a seizure once it has started.


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