Over 60 million people, globally, suffer from epilepsy which is “a neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions” and its associated seizures, which are caused by associate abnormal electrical activity in the brain, making their day to day lives more difficult than we can ever imagine. Many different therapies have been widely used in aiming to help with this illness.
Two technologies that have helped in the advancement of making the lives of those who experience seizures caused by epilepsy are Deep Brain Stimulations (DBS) and Transcranial Magnetic Stimulations (TMS). Professor Hui Ye also discussed this when he led his talk. To dive more into depth on the two types, historically, DBS has been used in helping to treat different control illnesses such as side effects caused from diseases like Parkinson’s. DBS has been expanded to now help with different causes, those including nicotine depression and suicide. In DBS there are electrodes that are implanted behind the patient's ears and are connected via a wire to a neurostimulator which is embedded within the chest. Typically patients are given a remote control that they use to turn on and off the machine to simulate electrical charges. Although this method has proved useful in the past because it is a surgery there are many complications associated with it including infection or internal bleeding. Side effects after the implantation are also possible including hardware complications or possible swelling at the site.
Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a treatment, however, that is non- invasive, non- drug that uses magnetic pulses to stimulate parts of the brain. It has been used as a therapy to help with multiple different issues including helping someone quit smoking or helping someone who is depressed. In the past, it has been helped to treat patients with depression by simulating the pulses to areas that are underactive in depression such as the prefrontal cortex. For epilepsies and seizures, the area of the brain involved most likely is in and around the hippocampus. “In recent years, rTMS, particularly low frequency (0.3 to 1 Hz) rTMS that can induce a lasting reduction in cortical excitability, has emerged as a potential treatment for intractable epilepsy”.Professor Ye’s talk gave an interesting look into his research where the goal was to investigate the neurological mechanism of magnetic control of seizure to facilitate its clinical implementation.
As research is showing, there is a new technology available with less side effects, being less invasive that is a new and upcoming field, and we should start to take advantage of it!
NOOHI, Sima, and Susan AMIRSALARI. “History, Studies and Specific Uses of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (RTMS) in Treating Epilepsy.” Iranian Journal of Child Neurology, Winter, no. 10, 2016, pp. 1–10. i.
Pages, Kenneth. “TMS Can Help Patients With Depression.” Psychiatric News, 17 Nov. 2017, psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/doi/full/10.1176/appi.pn.2017.pp11b3.
Rotenberg, Alexander. “Prospects for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Epilepsy.” Prospects for Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Epilepsy, Epilepsy Foundation, 2 Dec. 2015
Theodore, William H. “Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation in Epilepsy.” Epilepsy Currents: Reviews and Critical Analysis, vol. 3, no. 6, Nov. 2003, pp. 191–197.