Epilepsy Oran Knowlson Neurostimulator
Oran Knowlson recovering after the surgery

Epilepsy: British Teen Becomes First Ever Recipient Of Skull-Implanted Neurostimulator

13-year-old Oran Knowlson from Somerset, England has just become the first patient in the world to trial a revolutionary neurostimulator device implanted directly in the skull to control his severe epilepsy.

According to the BBC, the teenage boy who has Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a particularly treatment-resistant form of epilepsy, has struggled with debilitating seizures since the age of three.

The boy experienced numerous daily seizures, some of which were life-threatening and “robbed him of all of his childhood,” with instances when he would stop breathing and needed emergency medication to revive him.

The breakthrough came through the CADET project, a series of trials at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, assessing the safety and effectiveness of deep brain stimulation for severe epilepsy.

In October 2023, when the boy was 12, a team led by consultant paediatric neurosurgeon Martin Tisdall performed the eight-hour operation.

They inserted electrodes into Oran’s brain, targeting the thalamus, a crucial relay station for neuronal information.

The electrodes were connected to a 3.5cm square, 0.6cm thick neurostimulator implanted in his skull. This neurostimulator emits constant electrical pulses to disrupt the abnormal brain activity that triggers seizures.

Unlike previous deep brain stimulation devices placed in the chest with wires running to the brain, this new device’s skull placement reduces potential complications like infections and device failure.

Mr Tisdall expressed optimism about the trial’s potential to establish deep brain stimulation as a viable treatment for severe epilepsy.

The boy had a month to recover from the operation before the neurostimulator was activated. Once activated, it could not be felt. He can recharge the device daily using wireless headphones, allowing him to continue enjoying activities like watching TV.

The cutting-edge treatment has resulted in an 80 per cent decrease in his daytime seizures, significantly enhancing his quality of life.

Since the surgery, Oran has shown remarkable improvement. Justine reported that he is happier and enjoying a much better quality of life.