Photo has been used for illustrative purposes.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
An Emirati girl, 14, is looking forward to a better life having become the first recipient outside of Europe and North America, of the most advanced smart and intelligent less-than-the size-of a one dirham coin implant for people with epilepsy.
H.A., who, according to Rashid Hospital (Dubai) records, had been suffering from drug-resistant epilepsy seizures, underwent the Vagal Nerve Simulator (VNS) implant procedure a week ago.
The medical team was headed by Rashid Hospital-Neurosurgery Department head Dr Abdulla Qassim and Neurology/Epileptilogy consultant Dr Muhammad Al Kaylani.
Already discharged, H.A. is hopeful as well as expectant of less severe and infrequent seizures brought about by the VNS, which, according to the Epilepsy Foundation portal, is preferred to address ineffective epileptic medications including surgeries being impossible to perform.
Epilepsy, a central nervous system disorder, has been classified by the World Health Organisation as a “chronic brain disorder.” It is characterised by sudden uncontrollable seizures with accompanying loss of awareness and unconsciousness. It affects 50 million across all ages globally with 70 per cent of these or 35 million able to live seizure-free lives if diagnosed properly. Patients have been projected to be at thrice at risk for deaths compared to the general population.
Al Kaylani said: “One third of people with epilepsy (16,666,667 of the WHO data of 50 million) do not fully respond to anti-seizure drugs.”
Qassim said VNS is the “pacemaker for the brain as it sends regular and mild impulses of electrical energy to the brain via the vagus nerve which helps prevent epileptic seizures.”
The vagus nerve is also “responsible for the heart rate, gastrointestinal contraction, sweating and a few muscle movement of the mouth including speech,” according to the Epilepsy Foundation portal.
Neurosurgery consultant Qassim said: “The mechanism is so sophisticated the patient does not realise there is an implant in her body. After a thorough evaluation, we concluded that the patient was the right candidate for the VNS.”
Al Kaylani said: “This method of treatment is primarily used to treat focal or partial seizures that do not respond to seizure medications and is used for patients who are not eligible for certain types of epilepsy surgeries.”
He added the VNS implant on H.A. is the “newest generation of the most advanced type of smart and self-intelligent implant which can be programmed for each patient differently that shortens the recovery time after a seizure.”
Al Kaylani said the implant reduces emergency room visits.
DUBAI HEALTH AUTHORITY’S ANNOUNCEMENT: The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) has announced that the isolation period for certain COVID-19 patients and close contact cases has been reduced to 10 days from the initial 14-day period.
The shortened isolation period is applicable to COVID-19 patients who did not develop any symptoms since testing positive. The reduced isolation period also applies to patients with mild cases of COVID-19 who have fully recovered from their symptoms - without the use of fever-reducing medications.
Individuals who have come in close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case but did develop any symptoms should also abide by the new quarantine period of 10 days, starting from the day they were exposed to the confirmed case.
As for patients who are hospitalised due to developing moderate, severe or critical COVID-19 symptoms, they can only be discharged when they have tested negative in a PCR test two consecutive times that are 24 hours (or more) apart. In this case, the patient should also be afebrile for more than three days without the use of fever-reducing medications. Additionally, the patient should also have improved minimal respiratory symptoms and their pulmonary imaging must show significant improvements.
According to DHA, this category of patients should self-isolate for seven days after they are discharged. If symptoms appear again during the two-week period after discharge, they should revisit the clinic for a follow up.
The DHA said that shortening the quarantine period is based on global research on COVID-19, which found that the majority of contact cases get infected within the first 10 days from last exposure.
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