Allison Adams has epilepsy. She used to be afraid to leave her home. "You get fearful and having that fear is horrible," she said.
About 10 times a day she could feel a seizure coming on -- and medication often didn't help. "It would get stronger, down my shoulder, my left side, numbness in my face and tongue," Adams said.
Six years ago she joined a group of patients to test a new device to reduce seizures. The Neuropace RNS System is implanted under the skin on the skull. It sends tiny electrical impulses to nerve cells in the brain to stop seizures before they happen.
"It is constantly looking for seizure patterns and then treating, instead of being an on-off type of device that's on all day long, all night long," said Dr. Christianne Heck with the Keck School of Medicine.
The device can be reprogrammed even after it's been implanted in the brain. A special laptop collects information about the patient's brain activity and doctors then use that data to make any necessary changes.
To gather that information, Adams holds a wand over her implant and uses a computer at home to send it to her doctor about every two weeks. She said she now has milder symptoms, less seizures and the device gave her the confidence to have her first child. "It's helped me be there for him, and be able to get out and take him to baby groups," she said. "And know that I'm going to be, you know, better than I was before."
And while Adams will likely continue to have seizures, she said she's grateful for the improvement in her life.
Bigad Shaban - CBS News
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