Le Bonheur uses device to prevent epileptic seizures

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Life for 7-year-old Lainey Barnes has not been easy.

"It's been a long seven years, it has," said her mother Kimberly Barnes.

Lainey is non-verbal and has suffered from thousands of seizures in her young life.

When she was younger she used to have hundreds of seizures every single day. That has gone down to dozens a day in recent years.

"We're lucky to have her," Kimberly said.

But a new medical breakthrough, approved by the FDA just last week, is upgrading a device called the Vagus Nerve Stimulator. Lainey is the first one in Tennessee to receive it.

"A change," Kimberly said. "She also has a twin brother and an older brother that would love to see this work."

"If the patient is going to have a seizure, it basically short-circuits the seizure, so it doesn't happen or shortens it," said Dr. James Wheless, director of the Le Bonheur Comprehensive Epilepsy Program.

Dr. Wheless has worked closely developing the newest form of the stimulator, which is installed in the chest, and sends electronic signals to the Vagus nerve in the neck to lessen or even prevent seizures.

The device fits in the palm of your hand and has a battery life that can last 6 to 8 years allowing it to work automatically in daily life.

"We're not quite close to the same difference as a driverless car and a car that you have to drive but we're getting close to that," Dr. Wheless said. "This is almost that big of a jump."

"We're excited, we hope this is our answer," Kimberly said.

So far, the effect has been dramatic.

"Yesterday, after the procedure we noticed several, she had one big one last night," Kimberly said. "But I haven't noticed any at all today, we haven't seen any today."

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