For people 4 years old or older with hard-to-control epileptic seizures, the vagus nerve stimulation system implant may reduce the severity and amount of seizures. By sending an electrical pulse to the vagus nerve, the device can interrupt or prevent electrical disturbances in the brain that lead to seizures.
The VNS system’s battery supplies energy anywhere from five to 12 years depending on the device settings. Each device is programmed differently for each patient. The device can use three different types of stimulation to affect seizure frequency and severity:
- It can turn on and off 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, independent of any seizure activity. This affects the brain to improve seizure control.
- It can abort an ongoing seizure by having the patient or caregiver initiate a stimulation by using a hand-held magnet.
- The device can detect when it’s necessary to begin treatment by monitoring a patient’s heart rate. When a rise in heart rate coincides with a seizure, the device can begin a stimulation that can decrease the seizure's duration and severity.