Device tested at MUSC to change epilepsy treatment worldwide

by Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- For Erick Gordon, life is full of laughs again; he has a girlfriend and wants to go back to school. But, his first seizure five years ago put life in question.

"I passed out, didn't know what happened after that," he said.

After that incident during class at Trident Tech, Gordon was unconscious for 18 hours and doctors diagnosed him with epilepsy. He said he was having 30 seizures a month, but doctors determined those seizures were coming from a part of his brain he could not live without.

Thus, he could not have surgery.

"In Erick's case, we can't take out both temporal lobes because then he won't be able to create any memories again," said Dr. Jonathan Edwards, director of MUSC's Epilepsy Center.

Now, a semi-circle-shaped scar marks the area of Gordon's head where he rubs a machine that records information from his brain. It's reading a device called Neuropace. Doctors implanted it in 2009.

MUSC was one of the sites operating trial testing of the Neuropace device. Only about 20 sites worldwide got that designation.

The longer the device is in Erick's brain, the more it learns, Dr. Edwards said. When he scans the device across his head, it sends information to a laptop. Over time, it builds the capabilities to sense when a seizure is about to happen.

"The device stimulates to disrupt rhythm and break the seizure," Edwards said.

For Gordon, the device has literally changed his life. He said he has one-third of the number of seizures he was having before the device was implanted. And when the device stops a seizure, he doesn't even know.

"I'm getting a little more excited that school is looking more in my future," Gordon said.

With his epilepsy in check, he hoped to one day become an aerospace engineer.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the device about two weeks ago and doctors expect it to be widely available to patients in a few months.

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