Transformative epilepsy surgery gives artist new lease on life

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Artist Syril Strickler was 47 erstwhile she had her first epileptic seizure, waking up successful nan infirmary aft neighbors recovered her unconscious successful nan street. For 10 years, seizures each fewer weeks brought her life to a virtual standstill-;until Cedars-Sinai physicians performed a room that gave Strickler her life back.

Strickler launched her ain creation workplace soon aft graduating from nan prestigious School of nan Art Institute of Chicago successful nan precocious 1980s. She painted murals astatine much than 100 Chicago restaurants, hotels, nightclubs and bars, and relocated to Southern California soon earlier her seizures began successful 2007.

"Every period aliases so, I would person different seizure and aftermath up successful nan infirmary astir 4 days later," Strickler said. "Little by little, nan business I had built up came to a halt. After a seizure caused a awesome car clang where, thankfully, nary 1 was killed, I had to springiness up driving. My life was perfectly leveled."

Jeffrey M. Chung, MD, head of nan Epilepsy Program astatine Cedars-Sinai, met Strickler successful 2019 erstwhile she was referred by a erstwhile Cedars-Sinai resident.

Syril had been prescribed galore different medications and they were not controlling her seizures, which were predominant and severe. If a patient's seizures aren't controlled by nan first 2 medications they try, location is little than a 5% chance that further medications will help. It was clip to look into different curen options."

Jeffrey M. Chung, MD, Director of nan Epilepsy Program astatine Cedars-Sinai

To find nan nonstop constituent successful Strickler's encephalon wherever her seizures were originating, nan epilepsy squad first monitored her seizure activity utilizing EEG electrodes attached to her scalp. When that didn't output capable information, Adam N. Mamelak, MD, head of nan Functional Neurosurgery Program astatine Cedars-Sinai, implanted electrodes astatine various locations successful Strickler's encephalon to make much precise recordings possible.

During a infirmary enactment of respective days, Strickler besides volunteered to assistance Cedars-Sinai investigators by performing experimental tasks akin to machine games while they recorded nan activity of cells successful different regions of her brain-;something imaginable only successful patients who are undergoing invasive EEG monitoring.

"The information from these experiments is uncommon and precious, and allows america to observe really nan encephalon works," said Ueli Rutishauser, PhD, head of nan Center for Neural Science and Medicine astatine Cedars-Sinai. "We person utilized this information to summation insights into really nan encephalon records and recalls memories, really it makes decisions, and really these processes spell incorrect successful definite conditions. And for nan patients, we've recovered it is uplifting and empowering, because it gives them nan chance to lend to subject and perchance thief create caller treatments that thief early patients."

Strickler said that moving pinch nan investigation squad helped brighten her clip successful nan Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. "We had a awesome time, and I still support successful touch pinch them," she said. "It was neat that I sewage to beryllium progressive successful that."

If a patient's epileptic seizures originate from a azygous constituent successful nan brain, surgeons tin region a mini information of insubstantial astatine that constituent to extremity them. Because Strickler's seizures were coming from 2 points, Mamelak suggested an replacement curen called neuromodulation.

"We recovered that astir of Syril's seizures were originating successful nan correct hippocampus, but immoderate were coming from nan left," Mamelak said. "We placed imperishable electrodes successful each of those locations. They are connected to a mini instrumentality implanted successful her skull that detects seizures conscionable arsenic they are starting and delivers electrical pulses to unopen them down."

Mamelak said that precocious imaging and robotic room person importantly reduced nan risks from these procedures, and that patients person much curen options than ever before. Chung noted that neuromodulation results successful complete seizure power for much than 70% of patients, including Strickler, who has been seizure-free for much than a year.

"I'm engaged coating again and americium astir to postgraduate from Ventura Adult and Continuing Education pinch a certificate successful people and web design. I conscionable started a caller occupation doing video coating tutorials for an L.A.-based shaper of plasters and ornamental paints," Strickler said. "And aft 6 ½ years without a driver's license, I americium capable to drive. I consciousness for illustration I've been fixed an absolute miracle."

Chung, who has now begun weaning Strickler disconnected her anti-seizure medications, urges patients who person tried much than 2 medications and are still having seizures to activity retired an information astatine an epilepsy center.

"With a due evaluation, you tin study what your options for curen are and make a conscious choice," Chung said. "The saddest point is erstwhile we person options that could extremity a patient's seizures, and they're not being evaluated for those options."