Action funding has enabled researchers to develop a new technique to help some children with epilepsy, which uses new ways of electrically stimulating different parts of the brain.
Over 60,000 children and teenagers aged 18 and under have epilepsy in the UK. Sadly, medication doesn’t work for up to one third of these young people and other ways of treating epilepsy, such as surgery, are not always effective.
Dr Antonio Valentin, of King’s College London, has developed a new way to treat children whose epilepsy originates in localised areas of their brain (focal epilepsy), which involves electrical stimulation of the brain.
It involves suppressing the area of the brain which triggers the seizures by stimulating very specific parts of the brain (using cortical and deep brain stimulation) with electrodes placed under the skull.
The technique is being used in the clinic at King’s College Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, with the hope of expanding its use to other hospitals in the near future. In 2019 Dr Valentin reported that 12 children had already benefited from the new technique. One of these children who had to use a wheelchair before the procedure was able to walk and run again and had fewer seizures.
It is estimated up to 30 children a year could be treated in this way to reduce their seizures and improve their quality of life. Dr Valentin is planning to run a larger trial to prove this technique works for children with severe epilepsy.