Advanced Technology Helps Reduce Seizures For WJ Resident
Erik Wright is living a full life thanks to a new treatment he received for his epilepsy.
Living with seizures is a reality for many people. It is often a guessing game to find the right medication or treatment, and is different for each individual. Even a good medication is usually accompanied by various side effects. Thirty-seven year old West Jordan resident Erik Wright has been searching for the right treatment since he was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was five years old. Finally, he tried something new.
“Erik’s neurologist suggested Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy, a small pacemaker-like device for the brain,” said Danielle Furman from Cyberonics, the company that developed VNS. “When he feels a seizure coming on, he swipes the magnet over his chest and is able to make the aura disappear, and potentially avoid a full seizure almost immediately.”
Erik used to suffer several seizures a week, even when he was taking six pills a day. Now with VNS, his seizures have been reduced dramatically and he is taking less medication.
“I’m on three pills a night now, where I was taking six a day before,” Wright said. “I think the last seizure I had was back in October.”
The VNS device is implanted in the chest and is connected to a small wire that attaches to the vagus nerve in the head. It sends small regularly scheduled impulses to the brain, and can also be activated by swiping a magnet across the device on the chest.
“It goes off every five to 10 minutes. If I feel a seizure coming on, I just take the magnet and swipe it across,” Wright said. “In other cases, say someone is having a seizure, a parent, family member or even a friend could use the magnet on the person having a seizure and help it end sooner.” Wright keeps his magnet with him all the time. Doctors can adjust the impulse frequency and intensity to suit each individual.
This kind of seizure control has meant a new way of life for Erik. He feels more confident, is more outgoing and travels much more.
“I feel better. I even took two trips to Brazil by myself. I’ve got a sweetheart back there that I’m trying to get here now,” Wright said. He has been asked to speak at seminars about VNS treatment and has been a local resource for patients considering the procedure.
“I think it’s really changed my life,” Wright said.