Epilepsy is a chronic neurological condition that is characterized by recurring seizures. The diagnosis is established when a person experiences two or more unprovoked seizures separated by at least 24 hours. The complex disorder affects people of all ages, races and ethnicities and can oftentimes be unpredictable. Some individuals with epilepsy have multiple seizures every day, and others can go years without having an episode.
What is a seizure? A seizure is a sudden, abnormal surge of electrical activity in a group of brain cells. Seizures generally last 1-3 minutes and manifest in a variety of ways: loss of consciousness, convulsions, drooling or frothing at the mouth, lip smacking, and jerking movements of the arms and legs.
Four percent of the population will be diagnosed with epilepsy at some point in their life, and in the majority of cases, there is no detectable cause.
Epilepsy Innovation: New Advances in Treatment
Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s hospital now performs laser ablation surgery, a revolutionary procedure used to treat epilepsy and brain tumors.
The minimally invasive surgery, requiring only a single, tiny incision, removes tumors and other lesions by using light to heat and destroy unwanted cells. Doctors use 3D navigation to place a thin laser catheter in the brain, and then with MRI guidance, they perform the surgery. The procedure is less painful and risky than traditional surgery and can bring an end to a child’s seizures—literally overnight.
The effectiveness of the procedure, combined with careful decision making with patients, resulted in 100% success in the first year. Every patient who received laser ablation surgery at Phoenix Children’s hospital in 2017 remains seizure-free. These patients, many of whom could not bathe by themselves, participate in extracurricular activities, drive or live on their own, can now live their lives to the fullest.
Barrow Neurological Institute at Phoenix Children’s hospital is the only pediatric hospital in the Southwest—and one of only a few in the country—to offer the procedure for epilepsy.
EPI-HAB Supports Individuals Living with Epilepsy and its Many Challenges
EPI-HAB provides meaningful employment opportunities for individuals with epilepsy. Typical work focuses on hand labor skills, and employees are paid at or above minimum wage with flexible hours.
The 501(c) 3 organization is unique in that it does not solicit donations or charitable contributions, receive any grants – government or otherwise, nor does it conduct fundraisers. EPI-HAB operates and competes, for the most part, as a for-profit business.
Alongside the organization’s own efforts to increase the quality of life for Arizonans living with epilepsy, EPI-HAB donates excess profits to charities like Phoenix Children’s hospital and the Epilepsy Foundation of Arizona to advance the study of the disorder.
Earlier this year, as part of its “Six Decades of Service” celebration, EPI-HAB presented a $10,000 check to Dr. Varina Boerwinkle of Phoenix Children’s hospital to support the global medical community leader’s research in targeting hard-to-treat tumors that cause epilepsy.
For more information about EPI-HAB, visit www.epihab.org.