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Getting Your Life Back: Quality Epilepsy Treatment at Rush

“Everyone in the pool — except DeFlorio.” This is what Mike DeFlorio’s teacher announced during high school swim team tryouts, singling him out as others had done for years.

DeFlorio has had epilepsy since he was an infant. Through the years he saw several physicians and tried many medications, without relief. By his 40s he was having only mild seizures, but that didn’t mean life was easy.

“He had one while we were driving,” says DeFlorio’s wife, Carla. “I had to grab the wheel at 60 miles an hour.”

The Right Place

While DeFlorio had resigned himself to getting by with his condition, his wife saw things differently. It was Carla who finally found the treatment that changed her husband’s life. “She researched epilepsy treatment and found the best,” DeFlorio says.

Her research brought them to the Rush Epilepsy Center and Andres M. Kanner, MD, one of seven epileptologists, neurologists who specialize in epilepsy treatment, at Rush University Medical Center.

The Right Treatment

Epileptic seizures are caused by disturbances in the electrical functions of the brain. Grand mal seizures consist of uncontrollable shaking and loss of consciousness. Brief loss of awareness, such as DeFlorio experienced, is called a complex partial seizure.

About 70 percent of people with epilepsy can control their seizures with medications. For DeFlorio, however, medication wasn’t working. He needed surgery, but first he needed to understand his condition.

Kanner told them the seizures were probably coming from a damaged structure, called the hippocampus, in his brain’s right temporal lobe. He also explained that after so many medications had failed, DeFlorio’s chance of remaining seizure-free with medications alone was virtually zero.

Tests confirmed Kanner’s diagnosis, and DeFlorio was on the road toward life-changing surgery. The focused, individualized care at the Rush Epilepsy Center helped him to be ready.

“They explained the procedure and made me feel comfortable about everything,” DeFlorio says.

Reassuring patients is an essential part of the process for neurosurgeon Richard Byrne, MD, who specializes in epilepsy surgery and removed DeFlorio’s damaged hippocampus.

“I’ve performed hundreds of these surgeries. Knowing that really helps patients and families,” he says.

In fact, physicians at Rush were among the first in the United States to use surgery to treat epilepsy. They perform more of these surgeries than any other hospital in Chicago, which gives them a different perspective. And it means more options and a new outlook on life for people who haven’t been helped by medications.

Living Seizure-Free

Like most of Byrne’s patients, DeFlorio hasn’t had a seizure since his surgery. Helping every patient become as close to seizure-free as possible is the goal of the team at the Rush Epilepsy Center, one of the leading centers in the Midwest.

The team uses a full range of medical and surgical options, including new technologies that aren’t widely available. For example, Rush is one of only two centers in Illinois that has state-of-the-art SISCOM imaging, which helps identify the origin of seizures in the brain when other tests don’t provide the necessary information.

The Rush Epilepsy Center is part of the neurosciences program at Rush, which is dedicated to treating even the most difficult neurological disorders. In fact, the program is ranked 15th in the nation by U.S.News & World Report.

This kind of quality care creates success stories like the DeFlorios’ every day at Rush.

To find out more, come to a free class about the latest epilepsy treatments on Dec. 13. Call (888) 352-RUSH (7874) to register.

Innovation in Epilepsy Treatment

At Rush University Medical Center, research is focused on patient care, helping patients today and for years to come.

Physicians at Rush are testing the safety and effectiveness of two devices that they hope will provide new treatment options for some people with epilepsy.

In the SANTE study, a device is implanted in the thalamus — a part of the brain that may modulate seizure activity.

The Neuropace device detects seizures before symptoms occur, and then sends counter-signals that can suppress some abnormal electrical discharges in the brain. These studies may help identify the optimal stimulus conditions to control seizures. The result may be fewer or less severe seizures.

Epilepsy Care at Rush

At Rush, our team is on the leading edge of advances in medicine, whether it’s a new minimally invasive technique or a novel drug. Because Rush is an academic medical center, our patients benefit from all of the latest innovations, including some that are unavailable anywhere else in the world.

The neuroscience program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, is considered among the nation’s best. From using deep brain stimulation to eliminate the tremors of Parkinson’s and other movement disorders to applying minimally invasive approaches to treating the spine and brain, experts at Rush are helping to revolutionize care for patients at Rush and around the world.

For more information about state of the art care for epilepsy at Rush visit the Epilepsy Center home page.

Looking for More Health Information?

Visit Discover Rush’s Web Resource page to find articles on health topics and recent health news from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois. You will also find many helpful links to other areas of our site.

Looking for a Doctor?

Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, is a leader in caring for people of all ages, from newborns through older adults.

Just phone (888) 352-RUSH or (888) 352-7874 for help finding the Rush doctor who’s right for you.

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