ad info
 Diet & Fitness

 Headline News brief
 news quiz
 daily almanac

 video archive
 multimedia showcase
 more services

Subscribe to one of our news e-mail lists.
Enter your address:
Get a free e-mail account

 message boards

CNN Websites
 En Español
 Em Português


Networks image
 more networks

 ad info


  health > story pageAIDSAlternative MedicineCancerDiet & FitnessHeartMenSeniorsWomen

Brain 'pacemaker' may prevent epileptic seizures

A vagus nerve stimulator implanted into the body gives periodic electrical stimulation to the brain to help prevent epileptic seizures.  
August 25, 1999
Web posted at: 8:20 a.m. EDT (1220 GMT)
From Correspondent Jennifer Auther

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Nolan Hutain had to give up baseball because of epilepsy, but a new brain pacemaker has provided considerable relief and inspired the 12-year-old's dream to return to the ball diamond.

Among 2 million Americans suffering from epilepsy, Nolan knows all too well about the violent seizures associated with the nervous system disorder.

"You see all these flashing things around you, but they're a lot bigger. You can't really see that well -- blackouts -- you go completely blind," he says.

Ten to 15 seizures a week caused Nolan to miss school and fall behind. He had to drop baseball altogether.

Since he wasn't responding well to medication, his family pursued a different medical route. He had a vagus nerve stimulator implanted in his brain in June.

The $9,000 device is best described as a pacemaker for the brain. To make it work, surgeons make a pocket in the chest to hold a transmitter, called a NeuroCybernetic Prosthesis, or NCP, according to Dr. Clarence Greene, a pediatric neurosurgeon.

Nolan Hutain places a magnet across his chest to lessen the severity of a seizure.  

The vagus nerve stimulator has a generator similar to those used in heart pacemakers. The NCP generator is computer- controlled, and powered by a battery that can last up to five years.

Doctors use a computer to program doses of periodic electrical stimulation to prevent seizures.

Nolan has another weapon if he feels the onset of a seizure. When Nolan places a magnet across his chest, an episode has a shorter duration and seems less intense, says Dr. Mary Kay Dyes, a neurologist.

The NCP has been on the market for two years and implanted in 4,500 patients, mostly adults. For Nolan it means a chance to live a more normal life. He hopes to regain enough control to spend more time in school, and perhaps even play baseball again.

FDA OKs medical implant device for epilepsy
July 16, 1997
In-Depth: Epilepsy
Study shows high fat, low carb diet helps epileptic children
December 8, 1998
Diet may help epileptics go seizure-free
January 31, 1996
Researchers isolate the rare epilepsy gene
July 19, 1996

Epilepsy Foundation
Mental Health Net: Epilepsy Resources
Epilepsy FAQ
Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.

China SARS numbers pass 5,000
Report: Form of HIV in humans by 1940
Fewer infections for back-sleeping babies
Pneumonia vaccine may help heart, too
Enter keyword(s)   go    help

Back to the top   © 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.