CHICAGO. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – More than two million Americans have epilepsy, a brain condition marked by unprovoked, sudden seizures. For some patients, medication or even surgery can help.
Twenty year old Amanda Mullen is opening a brand new chapter. Amanda suffered a stroke in her mother's womb. From there, she suffered seizures just about every week of her life.
Mullen explained, "Like where am I? I didn't know where I was. The students in grade school were calling me names."
All the while, one of Amanda's doctors was working to develop a "road map" of her brain.
Marvin A. Rossi, MD, PhD, Associate Professor and Epilepsy Neurologist at Rush University Medical Center told Ivanhoe, "She had been very challenging because we could not clearly identify her highway or circuitry."
Then, success; Dr. Rossi developed an electro lead placement planning system. This was a first- ever method for finding the "on-ramps" to the brain's pathways, leading to the precise areas that can be stimulated with electrodes.
The stimulation comes from a newly FDA- approved device called the Neuropace system which was implanted in Amanda's skull. It works like a pacemaker or heart defibrillator that monitors brain activity and delivers stimulation when needed.
Julie Edwards, Amanda's mother, told Ivanhoe, "I see her as seizure-free, and I understand parents want to believe that, but I really do believe that we have data that shows that this works."
For now, Amanda's seizures have dwindled to about two per month. She's closer than ever to her life-long dream of a seizure-free trip to Paris.
The FDA approved Neuropace in November of 2013. The best candidates for it are adult patients who suffer seizures in up to two "fixed" locations in the brain, rather than in "random" places. Those "fixed" location patients who are medication- resistant make up about 20 to 30 percent of all patients with epilepsy.
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Andy Roesgen, Field Producer; Cortni Spearman, Assistant Producer; and Jamison Koczan, Editor.