Something to Be Thankful for: South Florida man receives life-changing epilepsy treatment

(WSVN) - Epilepsy can be a devastating condition, but a breakthrough treatment is giving one South Florida man something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. 7’s Alex de Armas has his story.

Mark Weinberg has always had big dreams.

Mark Weinberg: “I think my main dream was always to work with animals, so I’m back in school again.”

But as a teenager, he was diagnosed with epilepsy after being involved in a car accident. He was put on standard epilepsy medication to stop his seizures, but years later, when Mark went to college, the pills stopped working.

He had no choice but to drop out because his condition became too much to handle.

Mark Weinberg: “We did medicine changes, and I had surgery where they took a piece of the brain out.”

None of the treatments over the years were successful for Mark, so he and his family decided to look for something that would work. That’s when they visited the Epilepsy Center at University of Miami Hospital.

Mark Weinberg (points to head): “Right about here is where, I think, it’s the main area where they went in.”

Back in March, Mark’s brain was fitted for a tiny implant called NeuroPace.

Doctors say it works similar to a pacemaker, by sending electrical signals to the brain to help stop seizures.

Dr. Jonathan Jagid, neurosurgeon: “And that little generator or pacemaker — whichever way you look at it — is connected to two electrodes.”

It also keeps track of what happens inside Mark’s brain.

Dr. Andres Kanner, neurologist-epileptologist: “The computer chip records the electrical activity, and this activity can be downloaded into a server that we can review. And then we can program the computer chip to better detect the abnormality specific to that seizure.”

The implant comes with a wristband that can trigger more electrical signals to Mark’s brain if he feels a seizure coming.

Mark Weinberg: “If I feel anything, I just swipe it over real quick.”

NeuroPace was approved by the Food and Drug Administration just four years ago, and the University of Miami Hospital is one of only a few facilities in Florida offering it to patients with hard-to-treat epilepsy.

Dr. Andres Kanner: “He used to have an average of two to four seizures a month. The frequency of the seizures have really decreased to a very significant degree.”

Mark believes this medical breakthrough is the key to helping him achieve his dream — finally earning his college degree.

Mark Weinberg: “I’m just taking one class. I’m currently a junior, then I’ll see where I can go from there.”

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