Neurological conditions are a product of disorders of the brain. The Neurological Alliance found that in 2016, the brain was the most under-researched organ in the NHS. This critique has encouraged further research into diverse neurological conditions. This neurological research aims to discover alternative medicines and surgeries to ensure patients with these conditions live a better quality of life.
One of these under-researched neurological conditions is epilepsy. This is surprising because according to Epilepsy Research UK, 600,000 people have this neurological condition. This equates to 1 in 103 people having epilepsy. Due to these statistics, the NHS and private medical companies have further researched this condition. Following this research, the NHS has introduced new technology which eases the severity of this condition, known as Vagus Nerve Stimulation or VNS for short. Therefore, this article will serve to present this contemporary technology, hoping to raise awareness of both epilepsy and VNS treatment.
There are four recognized types of epilepsy in 2022. These include generalized epilepsy, focal epilepsy, combined generalized and focal epilepsy, and unknown epilepsy. It is necessary to identify the various types of epilepsy to prescribe the most effective cure. Generalized epilepsy typically affects both sides of the brain and can take motor or non-motor seizures. In contrast, focal epilepsy will only affect one segment of the brain, which can then spread further.
VNS is a specialized equipment that aims to reduce the number of seizures in an individual who has focal epilepsy. VNS uses a stimulator, which is implanted in the upper chest area. This becomes connected to the left vagus nerve to regulate the irregular activity in the brain. Once the simulator recognizes high-frequency irregular brain activity, the simulator will send mild electric currents to the focal area of the brain to calm this activity. In addition to this simulator, the patient is given a watch-like device. This magnetic device is connected to the simulator. If the patient gets a warning that a seizure will occur, one swipes this watch across the area of the implanted simulator. By doing so, the simulator will send stronger currents to their brain to decrease the chance of a seizure.
According to recent research, VNS allows for less than 50% of seizures within 21%-71% of patients. Furthermore, VNS decreases the severity of attacks and provides for less recovery time. Therefore, this new technology significantly benefits patients and improves their quality of life. However, as with all surgeries and medicinal cures, there are side effects. Common side effects include trouble swallowing, a hoarse voice, and minor breathing problems. It is the patient’s discretion whether these side effects outweigh the benefits VNS can bring to their life.
In conclusion, this article aims to spread awareness of the various types of epilepsy and the new technology surrounding this condition. Despite how common this neurological condition is, the public knows little information concerning epilepsy. Furthermore, up until now, there has been minimal research into the primary contributing organ, the brain. Recognizing this, the NHS has begun an investigation and is offering VNS treatment to ease the physical and mental pain of epilepsy.
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