This new trial testing brain stimulation that addresses the loss of consciousness during seizures will propel us forward in our understanding and treatment of epilepsy.Barbara Jobst, MD
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) will serve as one of the primary clinical sites of a new study of the use of an implanted brain stimulator to improve consciousness during epileptic seizures. Beginning in September, the randomized controlled study will observe temporal lobe epilepsy patients over the course of three years. This study is being led by the Yale School of Medicine, with DHMC and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, serving as clinical sites.
Temporal lobe epilepsy is characterized by “blank out” periods, seizure episodes that prevent conscious awareness. Patients report uncontrolled movements, blank staring, and loss of awareness. Many people with this form of epilepsy lose consciousness during seizures with risk of injuries or social harm. The goal of the upcoming study is to restore arousal or behavioral awareness in these patients when they lose consciousness and to ultimately improve their safety and quality of life. Implantable, personalized, deep brain stimulation devices offer hope to the one-third of patients suffering from drug-resistant epilepsy.
“It is really important that we push the therapeutic options for patients with epilepsy as far as we can,” said Barbara Jobst, MD, Chair of the Department of Neurology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (D-H) and a renowned expert in implanted brain stimulation devices, who is serving as site leader for DHMC’s study. “This new trial testing brain stimulation that addresses the loss of consciousness during seizures will propel us forward in our understanding and treatment of epilepsy.”
Study participants who are confirmed to experience two or more “blank out” episodes per month will be implanted with the neurostimulator device. Developed in partnership with biotechnology company Medtronic, the device will work by way of four leads: two connecting to the hippocampus portion of the brain, and two connecting to the thalamus portion. Combining the two types of leads in the novel device will help researchers to restore consciousness in patients. Another benefit of the device is its ability to provide continuous feedback while the patient is being studied.
The study will be led by Hal Blumenfeld, MD, PhD, Director of the Yale Clinical Neuroscience Imaging Center and Mark Loughridge and Michele Williams Professor of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Neuroscience at Yale.
To learn more about epilepsy research and clinical trials at DHMC, visit www.dartmouth-hitchcock.org/epilepsy/research-clinical-trials.
About Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH), New Hampshire’s only academic health system and the state’s largest private employer, serves a population of 1.9 million across northern New England. D-HH provides access to more than 2,000 providers in almost every area of medicine, delivering care at its flagship hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH. DHMC was named again in 2020 as the #1 hospital in New Hampshire by U.S. News & World Report, and recognized for high performance in 9 clinical specialties and procedures. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health includes the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, one of only 51 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the state’s only children’s hospital; member hospitals in Lebanon, Keene, and New London, NH, and Windsor, VT, and Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire; and 24 Dartmouth-Hitchcock clinics that provide ambulatory services across New Hampshire and Vermont. The D-HH system trains nearly 400 residents and fellows annually, and performs world-class research, in partnership with the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River Junction, VT.