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D. A Stimulating Device For Epileptics

Narrator: This is Science Today. There's a new electronic device for epileptics called the Vagus Nerve Stimulator which has been successful in controlling seizures in many patients who don't benefit from medications or surgery. Evelyn Tecoma of the University of California, San Diego's Epilepsy Center says the device is implanted in the chest wall with a wire extending to the neck, where it stimulates a cranial nerve and interrupts seizures in the brain.

Tecoma: So what I tell patients is that the device is placed in the chest, the stimulation takes place in the neck, but the effect takes place in the brain.

Narrator: Tecoma tested the Vagus Nerve Stimulator and says patient's results were varied.

Tecoma: A third of patients do extremely well and have a major, major reduction in their seizures, like 50 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent. Occasionally, they even become seizure free. Another middle third gets a good result but it's not really dramatic and radical. And then another third don't seem to benefit very much. I wish we knew how to predict the good responders.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.