Saturday, November 14, 2009

Epilepsy Awareness An Interview With Adrian E

I have mentioned several times that November is Epilepsy Awareness Month.  In keeping with that theme, I have been working on some interviews.  I speak publicly to help spread Epilepsy Awareness and I will be interviewing friends who do the same thing.

I met Adrian E. for the first time in March 2006 in San Antonio, Texas.  Adrian has epilepsy and he is committed to helping others with epilepsy.


November is Epilepsy Awareness Month and I'm hoping this picture will kick up that awareness. No, I'm not injured. It's me in 1996 at UNM Albuquerque's Epilepsy Center getting an EEG for the MEG & MR Spect research study they were doing. My participation in that study went on to provide important information about a condition that over 3 million Americans live with.

What is the "MEG & MR Spect" research study?
The MEG and MR Spec were two studies; one using the Magnetoencephalogram (MEG) and the other using Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MR Spec). It was performed at the University of New Mexico Albuquerque and done in 1996.

An EEG was performed prior to the MEG to get a baseline of my brain's activity. The EEG was an "all-day-all night" version but it was to look for spike anomalies and not actual seizures. There was no need to wean off my medications for any part of these studies.

MEG is a non-evasive, clean, and painless technique of measuring electrical activity in the brain without the use of electrodes like an EEG. The test involves the performing of an MRI prior to the MEG that is longer than a routine MRI (about 90 minutes vs 45 for a routine one). This is because very fine, well detailed images of the brain are needed. The images of the MRI are combined with the data from the MEG and form a 3D EEG (so to speak).

The MEG portion involves sitting in a special room where the subject can just dose off while a cylindrical object the size of a beer keg rests on the subject's scalp. Unlike the loud noise that anyone who has an MRI can attest to, the MEG is nearly silent and lasts about an hour or two.

MR Spec is used not to get a physical image of the brain, as an MRI would, but to gather a chemical composition of what the human brain is made up of. At this facility, the MR Spec looked larger than an MRI machine and, it turns out, much louder than an MRI. The test was about as long as a routine MRI, about an hour, but industrial grade earplugs were necessary to prevent hearing loss.

Do you know how your participation benefitted others?
It's been 13 years since these studies were performed but just three years ago, researchers in San Diego were testing a new use for the MEG. The Wada test is the standard by which memory and language functions are tested for people seeking epilepsy surgery. But the Wada has some serious risks, most notable being stroke and hemorrhage of the arteries below the brain. A new function of the MEG was being tested to see if it could possibly determine memory and language function of the patient without the risks that come with a Wada test. It looks like an alternative to the Wada could come in the next decade. (BTW, I participated in that San Diego study too.)

Was there a risk?
All in all, the risks involved were so minor; I had no problem participating in these studies.

Do you do anything else to help support Epilepsy Awareness?

I am an Epilepsy Advocate; I am a HOPE Mentor for the San Diego Epilepsy Foundation and educate public and private entities about epilepsy.

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