EPILEPSY (Syllabus GS Paper 3 – Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     2nd July 2024        
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Context: A UK-based teenager has become the first person in the world to be fitted with a brain implant to help bring his epileptic seizures under control.


Epilepsy

  • About: It a condition that leads to recurring seizures, sees a person experience jerking of arms and legs, temporary confusion, staring spells, or stiff muscles. 
  • Caused by: Abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

oUnidentified Causes: Nearly 50% of epilepsy cases have no identifiable cause.

oKnown Causes: Head trauma, brain tumors, infections like meningitis, or genetics can lead to epilepsy.

  • Risks: Epilepsy can increase the risk of accidents, drownings, and falls.
  • Prevalence in India: Between 3 and 11.9 per 1,000 people in India suffer from epilepsy, according to a 2022 Lancet study.
  • Treatment Resistance: Despite the availability of several anti-seizure medicines, 30% of patients remain resistant to treatment.

How Does the Device Work?

  • Neurostimulator Function: The neurostimulator delivers constant electrical impulses to the brain to disrupt or block abnormal seizure-causing signals.
  • Device: A 3.5 cm square and 0.6 cm thick device was surgically implanted in teenager’s skull and anchored using screws, as reported by The Guardian.
  • Electrode Insertion: Doctors inserted two electrodes deep into the brain, reaching the thalamus, which is a relay station for motor and sensory information. The electrodes' ends were connected to the neurostimulator.
  • Device Activation: The device was switched on after teenager recovered from surgery. It can be recharged using a wireless headphone.


DBS Utilization

  • About: The device employs Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), also used for Parkinson’s and other neurological disorders.
  • Past DBS for Epilepsy: Previous DBS attempts for childhood epilepsy involved neurostimulators in the chest with wires to the brain.
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