Epilepsy Talk

Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) — Reducing Seizures By As Much As 50% | August 4, 2017

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been called “a promising therapy for epilepsy,” as reported by the BBC.

According to the article, it’s designed for the considerable number of patients suffering from medically refractory epilepsy who are not candidates for resective brain surgery.

This seizure-interrupting device, also called a responsive neurostimulator system, is for those with temporal lobe epilepsy, bi-temporal epilepsy, and neocortical epilepsy.

Similar to the VNS, it’s minimally invasive and consists of implanting tiny electrodes in the brain that release electrical pulses, reducing the frequency of partial seizures and secondarily generalized seizures.

The therapy uses a pacemaker-like device, implanted in the brain to deliver a small amount of electricity when it detects the onset of a seizure.

The device works by combining three components:

A lead, composed of a thin wire with electrode contacts on it, is implanted surgically into the brain.

(Sometimes only one side of the brain is treated, and other times, two brain leads are implanted, one on the right side and one on the left.)

This pacemaker-like generator, is placed under the skin in the chest region, and is programmed to deliver the electrical stimulation to the brain lead.

A connecting cable, tunneled under the scalp and neck, links the brain lead to the generator.

The programming computer, then allows the doctor to adjust the stimulation intensity and rate, along with other settings from outside the body.

Settings are adjusted to maximize benefit and minimize any side-effects related to the stimulation.

It has the ability to constantly analyze brain activity, then deliver the correct electrical stimulation.

Aryeh Taub of Tel Aviv University’s School of Psychological Sciences says, “We duplicate the function of brain tissue onto a silicon chip and transfer it back to the brain,” explaining that the electrodes will pick up brain waves and transfer these directly to the chip.

The chip then does the computation that would have been done in the damaged tissue, and feeds the information back into the brain, prompting functions that would have otherwise gotten lost.”

He believes that, in the future, an interface with the ability to restore behavioral or motor function, lost due to tissue damage is achievable, especially with the help of their new electrode coating.

Clinical studies have found that it is generally safe, with the adverse effects being transient and mild.

One of the advantages of deep brain stimulation is that it can be switched off — if side-effects appear — and the entire procedure is reversible.

At this point, approximately 30,000 people worldwide are currently using deep brain stimulation to treat neurological or psychological conditions. And DBS is only the beginning.

But, several fundamental questions remain to be resolved. They include where in the brain the stimulus should be delivered, and what type of stimulation would be most effective.

One goal of this research is to combine the beneficial aspects of electrical stimulation with seizure detection technology, in an implantable responsive stimulator.

And the results are encouraging.

One recent study showed that deep brain stimulation demonstrated significant and sustained seizure reduction at five years!

Overall, researchers say more than half of those treated experienced a reduction in epileptic seizures of at least 50 percent.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that DBS therapy aims to reduce seizures but not necessarily to cure epilepsy.

And even though the effectiveness of this new treatment focuses on those with drug-resistant epilepsy, the treatment will not be suitable for all patients with epilepsy.

But it’s a great start to a promising future!

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  1. How would this work in a thunder and lightening storm?


    Comment by Kathy S.B. — August 6, 2017 @ 2:04 PM

    • I don’t know. But Barometric Pressure — weather differences such as sudden changes in temperature, dark skies, thunder, or bright, hot sunlight and humidity may be a definite trigger for some.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 6, 2017 @ 9:48 PM

  2. Phylis Feiner Johnson, are the DBS and VNS similar in any regards?


    Comment by Jeffrey Liakos — August 10, 2018 @ 8:16 PM

    • The Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS), is designed to prevent or interrupt seizures or electrical disturbances in the brain for people with hard to control seizures.

      Used in conjunction with anti-seizure medications, the VNS uses electrical pulses that are delivered to the vagus nerve in the neck and travel up into the brain.

      Similar to the VNS, Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), is minimally invasive and consists of implanting tiny electrodes in the brain that release electrical pulses, reducing the frequency of partial seizures and secondarily generalized seizures.

      It also has the ability to constantly analyze brain activity, then deliver the correct electrical stimulation.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 10, 2018 @ 10:26 PM

      • Phylis Feiner Johnson, neither is obviously a substitute for medication. However, between the DBS and the VNS, which is more practical for people whose Epilepsy cannot be controlled by medication alone?


        Comment by Jeffrey Liakos — August 12, 2018 @ 4:44 PM

      • DBS, but it’s still not done in many places.


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 12, 2018 @ 8:44 PM

      • I wonder why?


        Comment by Jeffrey Liakos — August 13, 2018 @ 9:07 AM

      • Think of it. DBS reaches deeper into the brain.

        That’s why they call it Deep Brain Stimulation!


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 13, 2018 @ 9:57 AM

      • Phylis Feiner Johnson, what are your thoughts on the reasons that natural remedies for medical issues seem to be treated like voodoo medicine?


        Comment by Jeffrey Liakos — August 13, 2018 @ 12:20 PM

      • I think it’s ridiculous.


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 13, 2018 @ 12:28 PM

      • Phylis Feiner Johnson, deep brain stimulation is a new concept for me. I know that it interrupts seizures. Can Deep Brain Stimulation prevent them?


        Comment by Jeffrey Liakos — August 13, 2018 @ 12:33 PM

  3. Theoretically.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — August 13, 2018 @ 12:39 PM

  4. I will be sure to read further into that.


    Comment by Jeffrey Liakos — August 18, 2018 @ 11:37 PM

  5. There has to be a connection with how glucose & glutamate levels are affected when any of these DBS / RNS & VNS gadgets are placed onto & into brain parts that affects the entire nervous system. There is more than enough clear facts that shows the reality that MSG’s & ASPARTAME’s do not help any human brain, no matter what brain condition that person has no matter if it is Epilepsy, MS, Parkinson’s, or whatever, even as migraine headaches are triggered by EXCITOTOXINS, seizure & everything else when these gadgets are activated to go to work, & yet MSG’s & ASPARTAME’s never get the WARNING LABELS they deserve, just gets no attention to be any part of the problem of brain conditions people have.


    Comment by CD — December 28, 2018 @ 1:26 PM

  6. Thank you so much for writing your posts. I have found them to be invaluable ! They are so helpful and so informative ! Just want you to know how much I appreciate the work that you do and the positive impact it has had!

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Nancy — December 22, 2019 @ 9:01 AM

    • Nancy, that means a lot to me.

      Epilepsy Talk is a labor of love, and when someone gets anything out of these articles, I’m thrilled.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 22, 2019 @ 9:34 AM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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