One patient’s story of getting his life back after experiencing debilitating seizures
Jesper’s journey started in the fourth grade, when his mother began to notice some odd behaviors. He sometimes wouldn’t respond when people asked him questions. He was having difficulty in school. Eventually, he started to have seizures. His mother scheduled an appointment for an EEG, a test used to record electrical activity in the brain. But Jesper couldn’t keep the appointment, for good reason: On the bus ride home from school that day, he had a massive seizure. That evening, after a visit to a local emergency room, Jesper was referred to Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, home to one of the most experienced epilepsy teams in the region.
Doctors at the Rush Epilepsy Center confirmed that Jesper, then 11 years old, had epilepsy. They prescribed anticonvulsant medications, the first line of defense against the disease. Yet the seizures kept coming. They were affecting Jesper’s speech and his ability to think - as well as the overall quality of his life. He could no longer enjoy the activities that made him happy, especially sports.
Jesper and his family met with the epilepsy center’s multidisciplinary team for further evaluation. As part of the visit, Jesper saw epileptologist Andres Kanner, MD, nurse practitioner Marlis Frey, NP, and pediatric neuroradiologist Sharon Byrd, MD. The team’s goal: To determine if Jesper was a candidate for surgery, recommended for select patients who do not respond to epilepsy medications and whose seizures are coming from one spot.
Jesper’s team set about to find the exact source of his seizures. Imaging tests revealed that Jesper had a rare, benign tumor in the frontal lobe of his brain, and that his seizures were coming from a spot near the tumor. Jesper then underwent a study called SISCOM, a revolutionary new imaging technique that allows surgeons to pinpoint the location of a seizure. Rush was the first medical center in Illinois to use SISCOM technology, available at only a few hospitals in the world. With the seizure focus located, neurosurgeon Richard Byrne, MD, operated on Jesper, removing the tumor as well as the seizure focus.
Jesper has been seizure free for more than two years. Today, he enjoys sports, particularly hockey and football. He hopes that one day he’ll play on his high school hockey team. In short, he no longer has to worry about seizures preventing him from living the active life of a normal teenaged boy.
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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.
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