VNS Therapy for Epilepsy

Erin | Hanover, Indiana

Erin first experienced seizures after being hit in the head by a softball at age 12. At first, doctors didn’t diagnose her seizures as epilepsy but instead felt she was suffering from panic attacks, stress and lack of sleep. Erin’s condition seemed to improve until her junior year in high school when she began to experience five to six seizures each week. Each seizure lasted 15 to 20 minutes and almost always resulted in a hospital trip. Finally, during her senior year, doctors confirmed that her previous tests had been read incorrectly and she did indeed have epilepsy.

Having seizures made life difficult for Erin. She was afraid to make friends in high school, and the kids weren’t always nice to her because they didn’t understand what was happening when she had a seizure. The medications she took had limited results and were difficult, as she often experienced side effects, including a severe allergic reaction, rashes and the inability to concentrate. Erin and her family grew frustrated, fearing she would never have a normal life. This led Erin to try a different physician who discussed additional treatment options with her, such as brain surgery and VNS Therapy. Erin had no doubt VNS Therapy was the option for her, and in 2001, she was implanted with the device.

Since receiving VNS Therapy, things have changed significantly for Erin. Once having five to six seizures each week, she now has about one seizure a month. In addition, Erin feels she has gained a new sense of independence, working as a certified nursing assistant and moving out of her parents’ home. Living on her own and taking care of herself and her dog is a great accomplishment.

Erin also started an epilepsy support group and visits local schools to teach students about epilepsy and available treatment options. Erin admits she was scared her seizures would never improve and she would never have a normal life, but she couldn’t feel more differently now. She knows she can change lives, and she’s more than just someone with a disability. Erin feels the addition of VNS Therapy to her treatment has given her the confidence she never thought she would have and is ready to make a difference in the lives of others. Her next step in fulfilling her independence is to become a certified X-Ray technician, and she hopes to start classes next year.