The most successful treatment for epilepsy thus far is anti-epileptic medication, which has a 70 to 80 per cent success rate in achieving seizure control in people with epilepsy. However, there are several non-pharmaceutical treatments with substantial research supporting their effectiveness in the treatment of specific types of epilepsy and/or epilepsy that medication alone cannot adequately control.
It is important to treat the whole person, not just the seizures. An interdisciplinary team including doctors, nurses, psychologists, therapists and social workers are essential for people who would like a comprehensive approach to their treatment. Local epilepsy agencies also offer a variety of supports and services to help people and their families live well with epilepsy. Click here to find an epilepsy agency near you. People who suffer from drug-resistant epilepsy may require additional support and ongoing access to community services in addition to medical therapy.
For patients who are not good candidates for brain surgery (either because they have generalized seizures originating in both hemispheres of the brain or focal seizures originating in an area that would cause severe impairment if removed), the following options are available:
Deep Brain Stimulation TherapyExpand Deep Brain Stimulation Therapy Section
Health Canada approved DBS therapy in 2012 to treat drug-refractory epilepsy. In addition to certain types of epilepsy, this treatment is also used for movement disorders and chronic pain.
When medication alone does not provide effective seizure control, and the person is not a candidate for resective brain surgery, DBS therapy may be a potential treatment option. Similar to Vagus Nerve Stimulation therapy, DBS therapy works through permanently implanted electrodes.
Instead of placing these electrodes in the vagus nerve in the neck, DBS electrodes are surgically implanted into a specific brain region to deliver electrical pulses to the brain tissue. The controlled electrical pulses can prevent seizures by interfering with the generation of hypersynchronous (or large amounts of abnormal) electrical activity.