Faculty of Medical Sciences

Living With Epilepsy

Living With Epilepsy

After suffering with epilepsy her whole life, Kim Armstrong underwent a pioneering operation which removed part of her brain. She has now been free of seizures for over fifteen years.

Kim was diagnosed with epilepsy in her early twenties after many years of experiencing undetected mini seizures. "I think I had epilepsy long before it was diagnosed as when I was at school I was always getting into trouble for daydreaming. The lack of memory and my speech became gradually worse. I would have absences and began to have panic attacks: this was a very low ebb in my life."

A pioneering operation which saw the removal of part of the brain responsible for seizures changed Kim’s life for the better, and she has now been free of seizures for over fifteen years. "I just wanted my life to get better and I hated not being able to work and just wanted to be like everyone else. My life is normal now: I got married, we bought a house and have two children who are perfect."

Dr Mark Cunningham, researcher at Newcastle University, said: "We know that there is a particular type of brain wave pattern associated with epilepsey, and this is caused by electrical connections between nerve cells in the brain. Traditional drugs have been targeted on inhibiting other types of connections which has meant that treatment in around 30 per cent of patients is ineffective. We are using detailed research techniques to map brain waves and gain an understanding of how and where a seizure orginates within the brain."

"The collaborative work that we conduct is a major step forward, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. The next step is to understand what it is that triggers the transition between the underlying epileptic state of the brain cells and the fast oscillations that are responsible for causing a seizure. With this sort of detail, we will potentially be able to cure a disease that affects an estimated 45 million people worldwide."

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