Researchers embark on study into incurable epilepsy using game technology


Researchers at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin are embarking on a study to protect the brains of young patients with epilepsy requiring surgery.

The study will use gaming technology to achieve this.

“So when the surgeon comes in, no matter how precisely he treats surgically, there is a risk of causing collateral damage,” says Dr David Paydarfar. “And this collateral damage, while it can cure epilepsy or dramatically improve epilepsy – there is damage afterwards where the hand does not move as well, or there is loss of memory, of language. , perceptions, etc. “

Paydarfar, professor of neurology at Dell Medical School, is leading a three-year student on preventing this “collateral damage” in patients with “incurable epilepsy” where seizures do not respond to medication and surgery. the “epileptic center” of the brain is the only option.

They plan to do this using multimodal gaming technology, incorporating movement via treadmills, to influence nuoplasticity, essentially by rewiring the brain.

“It’s kind of the opposite of recovering from a stroke,” Paydarfar said. “We do it before the operation, so it’s preventative.”

Patients will be referred to the Dell Children’s Epilepsy Center. Scientists at UT Austin will then work with clinicians where standard care and assessments continue and the team will learn where the epileptic circuit is located. Prior to surgery, patients will undergo a month or two of intensive training with games tailored to each patient.

“We would look using images and electrical recordings. We would see where the circuits fire, when they play, and see if we can move away – even a millimeter – from the epileptic site,” says Paydarfar.

A team of engineers, neuroscientists, neurologists and physicians specializing in epilepsy are preparing for the study. By early 2022, they hope to start training patients with the first surgeries in the spring.

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