World’s first brain implant used to control epilepsy seizures

The implant, which reduced epilepsy symptoms by 80%, can be charged via wearable headphones.

A 13-year-old boy from the UK who suffers from a treatment-resistant form of epilepsy has received a brain implant, which significantly alleviated the symptoms.

Oran Knowlson was diagnosed with Lenox-Gastatut syndrome when he was three years old and, since then, suffered daily seizures, sometimes up to a few hundred a day, BBC reports.

Knowlson’s condition was gradually getting worse until, in 2023, he received surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. After inserting the implant, seizures were reduced by 80 percent.

Epilepsy seizures are triggered by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. During the surgery, a team of medics used an implant by UK-based Amber Therapeutics aiming to block or disrupt these abnormal signals.

During the surgery, two electrodes were placed in the boy’s brain until they reached the thalamus, a key relay station for neuronal information.

The neurostimulator, which can be charged via wireless headphones while listening to music or watching TV, was connected with wires that had to be placed in the brain with a precision of less than one millimeter.

The team of medics removed a piece of bone and placed a 3.5cm square and 0.6 cm thick device instead, and then screwed the device into the surrounding skull.

This type of electrical stimulation, called deep brain stimulation, has already been used to treat epilepsy before, but until now, wires were placed in patient’s chests and required to be changed every few years.

According to The Guardian, three more children suffering from Lenox-Gastatut will soon get the implant, and 22 patients will receive the devices as part of a trial overall.