Yale School of Medicine starting trials on new epilepsy treatment that uses smart technology


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — About one-third of people diagnosed with epilepsy are not able to get relief from treatments currently available. Now, researchers at Yale University School of Medicine and two other locations are beginning trials on a new and innovative treatment that uses smart technology.

Those who suffer from temporal lobe epilepsy, or TLE, run the risk of being injured after suddenly losing consciousness.

“Devastating seizures that cause you to suddenly lose consciousness unpredictably, it can happen sometimes three or four times a month,” says Dr. Hal Blumenfeld, a neurologist at Yale Medicine.

The FDA has approved a deep brain stimulation device, with which many patients find success.

Now researchers have added a so-called fallback mode to the stimulation, which is the new treatment. It involves wires that go to the part of the brain that keeps people awake, the thalamus.

“Now the algorithm triggers stimulation of the thalamus to try to wake people up and try to improve their consciousness during active seizures,” explains Dr. Blumenfeld.

Smart tablets and watches allow doctors to track whether people are awake during the seizure or not and monitor the device. The devices provide data feedback, allowing researchers to customize therapy to each patient and monitor variations in the “blank out” episodes.

“It works kind of like a heart defibrillator in the sense that it can detect when a seizure happens, and stimulate to try and stop that seizure.”

Researchers at Yale are currently enrolling patients in the trial, which is FDA approved. Anyone interested can contact Dr. Blumenfeld at hal.blumenfeld@yale.edu.

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