A pacemaker in brain can treat epilepsy


New Delhi : Thirtythree‐year‐old epilepsy patient Shalini Arora's condition was deteriorating with each passing day as the medication which had helped her for years finally failed. It was then that a team of doctors installed a pacemaker in her brain providing much needed relief to her.
In the specialized 10‐hour‐long procedure, called 'Deep Brain Stimulation', a wire, as thin as a strand of hair, was implanted in the specific area of her brain that controls discharges going to and through the brain to all limbs.
Impulses in the brain were then supplied and controlled with an externally programmed pacemaker implanted below her left collar bone. "We have achieved a new milestone with this breakthrough treatment by implanting a pacemaker as a cure for intractable epilepsy. It has been never done in Asia before," said Alok Gupta, head, Department of Epilepsy, Artemis Health Institute (AHI), Gurgaon.
"She will be completely fine within the next three months," added Gupta.
The patient started getting epileptic fits when she was 18 months old. Till the age of 12, medicines kept her seizures under control but as she grew older, the frequency of fits increased. Each episode lasted for approximately 15 minutes followed by endless bouts of headache.
The pacemaker was installed Jan 15, 2012 and after more than two months, Arora has recovered well.
"I failed in Class 12 due to my condition. I was very depressed but still did my graduation with the support of my family. Now that I am cured, I am going to pursue my masters," said a tearyeyed Arora.
Kids as young as five years old can be treated with this procedure as well, said Gupta. According to the World Health Organisation, 50 million people across the world have epilepsy out of which 5.5 million are in India. Around 20 percent of the patients cannot be cured by medicine, Gupta added.