WESTON, Fla. – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent, cases of epilepsy are rising in the United States, now affecting more than 3.4 million adults and children.
In some cases, brain surgery can provide permanent relief when other treatments fail.
In the fall of 2018, 21-year-old Isabel Gascue was riding along in a car when suddenly everything went black.
“I was thankful that I crashed into two parked cars; that, thankfully, nobody was injured,” she said.
That first episode was not the last and she was ultimately diagnosed with epilepsy.
“It was ‘wow’, it was shocking, it was weird, it was ‘Like me? I have epilepsy?’” Gascue said.
She was among the 30% of epilepsy patients who did not respond well to medication making her a potential candidate for surgery.
“And those patients that are candidates for surgery are those that have tried at least two different medications and the medication is not working for the patient,” said Dr. Camilo Garcia, an Epileptologist with Cleveland Clinic Weston.
Garcia and a team of specialists were able to pinpoint the area of the brain through a three-step process starting with brain scans and then placing electrodes in Gascue’s head.
“And after that step, when all of that is removed, we do a third procedure that is the surgery itself where we kind of remove the area of the brain that is the culprit of the seizures,” he said.
After struggling through a painful recovery, Gascue has remained seizure-free.
“The fact that I have my life back simply has no words,” she said.
According to epilepsy experts, an estimated 40-80% of patients who undergo surgery experience major improvement or become seizure-free.