Unusual treatment may prove beneficial for patients with drug-resistant epilepsy

‘Electrical brain stimulation’ may have the potential to treat patients with drug-resistant epilepsy, according the latest UK research.

A study carried out by researchers from Kings College London focused on eight children with drug-resistant epilepsy in a bid to determine the effects of the following two key types of stimulation:

  • Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS)

This type of stimulation, which sees electrodes implanted into the brain, is already successfully used to treat a number of neurological conditions.

  • Subacute Cortical Stimulation (SCS)

This slightly less invasive treatment focuses on ‘short’ periods of stimulation to the surface of the brain, followed by monitoring and recording to determine which regions of the brain seizures originate.

Following tests with DBS, two of the eight children assessed demonstrated a 60 per cent improvement in the frequency and strength of their seizures, while one experienced a huge 90 per cent reduction in seizures.

In the case of SCS, two of the eight children became ‘seizure-free’ during the course of regular treatment, while four showed a 50 per cent or more improvement in seizure regularity.

Researchers concluded: “Given the significant long-term effects of chronic childhood epilepsy on educational attainment, employment, marital status, and psychological health into adulthood, this study may offer the potential to significantly improve the long-term quality of life of children with refractory [or drug-resistant] epilepsy.”

Nine former health secretaries announce concerns towards mental health measures

Nine former health secretaries have voiced their “alarm and dismay” towards today’s mental health services, a report has revealed.

The former secretaries came together to urge Prime Minister Theresa May to honour David Cameron’s pledge that the NHS would treat mental health equally to physical health.

They said “warm words” are yet to be backed by action.

In a letter signed by Lord Lansley, Stephen Dorrell, Kenneth Clarke, Andy Burnham, Alan Johnson, Patricia Hewitt, John Reid, Alan Milburn, and Frank Dobson, they warned that the Government is not doing enough to tackle the growing mental health crisis.

“Despite the warm words, one year on we see the same enduring injustice, the massive economic cost and the distress suffered by countless families across the country,” they said.

“Despite promised increases in funding, mental health trusts are still suffering cuts.

“Suicide remains the biggest killer of men under 45, people in crisis are still routinely shunted across the country in search of a hospital bed, children with eating disorders are too often turned away from services, and there is a growing mental health crisis among young women.”

In defence, the current Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said his regime is making progress towards its goal in addressing the difficulties faced by those with mental health problems.

He said clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) had increased spending by £693 million, and every area in the country has put together plans to transform children’s mental health services.

He added that suicide prevention strategy is also to be “refreshed”.