Author: Rachel Fernandes
A rundown on epilepsy:
Epilepsy is a neurological condition that causes frequent seizures. A seizure is caused by bursts of electrical activity in the brain. Epilepsy is usually a lifelong disease but in some cases, it can become slightly better over time. Typical symptoms include fits (uncontrollable jerking and shaking), loss of awareness and unfamiliar sensations such as numbness or a tingling feeling in limbs.
How is epilepsy currently treated?
At the moment, most cases of epilepsy are treated using anti-seizure medications. For some children, doctors may also recommend a ketogenic diet. This diet is high in fat and low in carbohydrates, with the normal recommended amounts of protein. Some patients, for whom the conventional drug treatments prove ineffective, may be offered neurosurgery. This, of course, carries with it the risks of infection and unintended damage to areas of the brain.
So what is laser brain therapy?
This treatment is to be offered under the UK’s National Health Service to patients whose condition can be pinpointed to a specific area of the brain and who have failed to show improvements after anti-seizure drugs. This therapy seeks to replace neurosurgery for epilepsy; it is significantly less invasive, carries fewer risks and demands less recovery time.
Standard neurosurgery involves removing the part of the brain that causes the seizures. Laser brain therapy, on the other hand, utilises a fibre optic laser at the tip of a probe to destroy the responsible brain tissue. The therapy takes place in an MRI scanner, enabling the clinical team to carry out the procedure with precision while ensuring a safe temperature is maintained in healthy brain tissue. Since minimal wounds are left, patients can return home the following day and resume their usual day-to-day activities within a week of the therapy. Those who undergo neurosurgery, however, are required to stay in hospital for a week and recovery at home lasts for three months. It is clear why the news of laser brain therapy has offered hope for many affected by epilepsy.