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'Brain pacemaker' halves number of seizures

3 Aug 2006

People taking
part in a study had the amount of their seizures halved by trigeminal
nerve stimulation (TNS), a new treatment for epilepsy, according to a
recent report.

The UCLA Medical Center pilot study, published in the July issue of the journal Epilepsia, required participants to wear small silver discs containing electrodes on their faces for up to 24 hours a day.

electrodes passed current to the trigeminal nerve every 15 to 30
seconds. The trigeminal nerve runs up the face into the brain. TNS is
similar to an established treatment for epilepsy, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS).
Unlike VNS, the TNS device can be used externally before the patient
considers having it implanted. TNS also stimulates both sides of the
brain, whereas VNS only stimulates one.

of the seven people tested reported a fifty-percent reduction in the
number of their seizures. However, the treatment is still in the
research stage, and needs to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

In the next stage of testing the device will be implanted under the skin rather than worn externally.