Till January this year, Shalini Arora, 33, would suffer from epileptic seizures almost everyday. So much so that at least two people were needed to control her every time she had an attack.
It was till Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) came to her rescue. It is a surgical procedure to implant a pacemaker for sending electrical signals to the brain to cure various neurological conditions such as dystonia, Parkinson's etc., and is widely used in various Indian hospitals including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences.
In this case, doctors at Artemis implanted a wire, as thin as a strand of hair, in the specific area of the brain called Anterior Thalamus — the region that controls discharges going to the brain and through the brain to all limbs — attached to an externally programmed pacemaker implanted below the left collar bone.
The pacemaker supplies and controls the impulses to the Anterior Thalamus in the brain, enabling her to lead a normal life. "Although she was diagnosed with epilepsy when she was only 18 months, she was leading a normal life but on medication. Life took an ugly turn in 2009 after Shalini failed in her board exams . Medicines failed to control her fits, the frequency of which increased with every passing day," said Hardayal Arora, her father.
"Doctors ruled out invasive surgery as there were epileptic discharges from multiple locations in the brain," he said.
"Epilepsy affects the day-to-day life of a patient, so much so that it may sometimes bring life to a complete halt for both the patient and the family. With this new line of effective treatment, it would be possible to control this inconvenience caused to patients and give them a seizure free life," said Dr Alok Gupta, head, department of neurosurgery at Artemis.
Arora who has not suffered from any attack since January 15, when the pacemaker was implanted wants to now complete her studies. "I want to do my MA now. I want to make my parents proud," she said.
Neurosurgeons say this procedure, which got CE (European) approval, may be a boon to millions of patients suffering from epilepsy.