Seizure Free Without Medications


TAMPA, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Epilepsy affects people of all ages. It’s the fourth most common neurological disorder. But doctors say there are more and more ways to become seizure free if medicine doesn’t work.

Even though being sandwiched between two full-time jobs, Roni-Kay Lopez carves out time for her “Seize the Moment” epilepsy charity.

“If I can get through this after a life-long battle, how can we help others get the opportunity,” shared Lopez, Founder, Seize the Moment Foundation.

She was having so many seizures as a little girl that doctors didn’t think she’d make it to sixteen.

“I was in a zoo with my family and I had 108 in one day,” explained Lopez.

Selim Benbadis, MD, Neurologist, USF Health says, “Surgery for epilepsy is not very common. Epilepsy is one percent of the population. It’s a large population and about a third of those are difficult to control with medications and those are the ones for which we look at the possibility of surgery.”

Doctor Benbadis uses images like this to find the focus of the seizures.

“In patients in whom we can identify focus precisely and is in a safe place to take it out to resect it, epilepsy surgery is very successful,” stated Dr. Benbadis.

But he says if surgery isn’t an option and medication doesn’t work … There’s neurostimulation.

“Where instead of taking out a part of the brain we stimulate that part or stimulate the entire brain to lessen seizures,” continued Dr. Benbadis.

Surgery worked for Roni and now …

“I never would have thought I could tell somebody I’ve been seizure free let alone medication free,” smiled Lopez.

That’s why Roni is charging on to spread her charity’s message: Seize the Moment.

Roni says she inherited the epilepsy gene from her great grandmother on her father’s side. Her charity, Seize the Moment, has given 25 thousand dollars for research and patient care so far.

Contributors to this news report include: Emily Gleason, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and, Chris Tilley, Videographer. 

REPORT #2817

BACKGROUND: Epilepsy is a neurological condition that affects the nervous system and is known as a seizure disorder. It is the fourth most common neurological disorder that affects people of all ages and is usually diagnosed after a person has had at least two seizures that were not caused by some known medical condition. Seizures seen in epilepsy are caused by disturbances in the electrical activity of the brain. They may be related to a brain injury, genetics, immune, brain structure or metabolic cause, but most of the time the cause is unknown. Although symptoms of a seizure may affect any part of the body, the electrical events that produce the symptoms occur in the brain. Therefore, the location of that event, how it spreads, how much of the brain is affected, and how long it lasts all have profound effects. These factors determine the character of a seizure and its impact on the individual.

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DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT: To get a diagnosis of epilepsy, a doctor will give a physical exam and ask about health history. They may prescribe an electroencephalogram (EEG) to be done which records the brain’s electrical activity. The results may show misfiring in the brain and help predict the chance of future seizures. Brain imaging tests such as an MRI or CT scan can help narrow down a possible cause you could treat, or the doctor may want to do a spinal tap if they suspect an infection, such as meningitis.  Drugs called anticonvulsants can stop or lessen seizures for people with epilepsy. The specific medication your doctor chooses is based on the type of seizures you have and their pattern. If your seizures can’t be controlled with medication, your doctor may suggest surgery. A device that goes under the skin in your neck can electronically “turn on” your vagus nerve, which controls activity between the brain and major organs. A responsive neurostimulator (RNS) is a small device put under your scalp. The most successful operations remove the area of the brain that’s causing the seizures. Other surgeries disconnect pathways between parts of the brain to prevent a seizure from spreading. Relaxation techniques, including biofeedback and yoga, may help lessen the chance of a seizure. And, some people with seizures have been helped by high-fat, low-carb diets, such as the ketogenic diet and a modified Atkins diet.


NEW MEDICATION TESTED: About 40% of epilepsy patients have drug-resistant epilepsy, necessitating surgery if they’re candidates. These patients have significantly lower quality of life, says Johns Hopkins neurologist and epilepsy specialist Gregory Krauss. In a recent clinical trial led by Krauss, a new drug known as cenobamate (a sodium channel modulator that also augments release of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), showed promise for patients with treatment-resistant focal onset seizures. Their results showed dramatic effects for those taking either the 200 mg or 400 mg tablet. They had 55% fewer seizures overall, with 21% stopping seizures altogether. In this study, patients were required to continue taking their current anti-seizure medications. Drug interactions may have caused frequent but mild adverse events, such as dizziness, headache and double vision. “A quarter of the patients I treat with cenobamate who were disabled by frequent focal seizures now have been seizure free for several years,” says Krauss.


* For More Information, Contact:

Sarah Worth, USF Health Communications and Marketing

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