New Device Significantly Reduces Seizures in Patients with ASD and Drug-Resistant Epilepsy

May 22, 2022

63% of Subjects Experienced at Least a 50% Reduction in Seizures, 21% Saw a 90% Reduction

Approximately 20% to 30% of children with autism will develop epilepsy by the time they reach adulthood. Of individuals who have both autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and epilepsy, 30% will not be able to control their seizures through medication. Patients with drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE) currently have very few options for managing their condition. However, this may change due to new research which shows promising results for a device called the responsive neurostimulator system (RNS). Similar to a heart pacemaker, the RNS monitors brain waves and responds to activity that varies from usual or looks like a seizure. The device is placed in the bone covering the brain and has tiny wires placed on the top of the brain where seizure activity could occur. RNS cannot be felt and is not permanent. The current study involved 19 participants (14 males and 5 females) with ASD and DRE between the ages of 11 and 29 (median 20 years). All patients had the RNS device implanted from 1 to 5 years. After the data was analyzed, 63% of all patients experienced a >50% seizure reduction. An astonishing 21% of those patients were classified as super responders, experiencing a >90% reduction in seizures. Additionally, 79% of participants experienced behavioral improvements as measured by the Clinical Global Impression Scale.  None of the patients experienced any complications from the implantation surgery. Although this study involves a small cohort, the authors believe that the RNS is a promising surgical option for controlling seizures for people with ASD and DRE. 

Original Study Abstract

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