An Israeli company has developed a new treatment for epilepsy, an illness which unfortunately I am quite familiar with from an early age.
When I was 14, I was home alone with my father, walking down the stairs to eat lunch with him. Then, all of a sudden, he fell down the stairs and cracked his nose open. I screamed and didn’t really know what to do. I was just a kid. Then, after a few minutes, I calmed down enough in order to call an ambulance and to run across the street barefoot in the snow in order to get the assistance of a neighbor of ours, who was close to our family. Fortunately, my father survived, but after that he was diagnosed with epilepsy.
For a while, my father passing out because of seizure attacks became part of our everyday lives. In one instance, it happened while he was behind the wheel of a car, thus causing my father to bump into a pole and flip the car. The fact that he was wearing a seat-belt saved his life, since that was the only thing that prevented his head from crashing. Indeed, my dad, always one with a sense of humor, would joke about the fact that he always survived these seizure attacks because he was like a cat that had nine lives. I asked, what happens after we get to seizure attack number nine? Then, silence would descend upon the room. Fortunately, my father would eventually get on the right medication and hasn’t had a seizure attack for quite some time. However, other people with his condition are not as fortunate.
Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder that causes people to have seizure attacks. It becomes more common as people get older, although there are also many cases of infants having the problem as well. Around 50 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy, about 80 percent of them living in developing countries. Evidently, 30 percent of people with epilepsy are unable to control their seizures through medication.
Presently, people with refractory epilepsy can not be treated with any of the seizure medications that are available on the market. However, an Israeli company called BioControl Medical has recently announced the successful trial of FitNeS, which is an implant that can treat epilepsy patients who have failed to gain control of their illness with the currently available seizure medications. In the five reported cases where this new devise was tested, it successfully led to a 50 percent reduction in seizure attacks on patients.
According to Professor Elinor Ben-Menachem, who partook in the tests on seizure patients, ““The early results of treatment with FitNeS are very encouraging. Even at relatively high currents, we are seeing positive outcomes in efficacy and an absence of side effects experienced by patients.” The FitNeS treatment consists of two parts, an implanted stimulator and stimulation lead, which work together to calm the overly excited nerve cells that lead to seizures.
BioControl Medical CEO Ehud Cohen said, “We see tremendous global opportunity for our technology in treating both heart disease and neurological disorders, and we look forward to a strong future of growth in both areas.” The FitNeS system is presently available in Europe through CerebralRx, yet is not available within the United States at this time.
By Rachel Avraham