Two-year-old Logan Mendres is a handful, but in addition to his typical toddler pursuits, Logan suffers from epilepsy.
“He’s got the grand mal seizures, he’s got the absence, he’s got the myclonic, the partial clonic complex. So he’s got a little bit of everything,” says his mom Kerri Mendres.
“Epilepsy is when a person has two or more un-provoked seizures. A seizure is an abnormal electrical charge in the brain that produces a physical outcome,” says Dr. Guillermo Philipps, pediatric neurologist with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.
Logan is one of 300,000 kids in the US under the age of 15 who has a seizure disorder. Epilepsy occurs when electrical signals in the brain are disrupted.
“Many people have heard of what are described as generalized tonic seizures where there’s shaking and stiffness of the whole body, but seizures can be as simple as staring spells,” says Dr. Philipps.
Problem is, Logan has them all the time.
“Absence seizures happens 100 times a day. The grand mal seizures could be twice a day, could be 8 times a day, it could be 3 times a week. We just never know,” says Mendres.
For most patients, medications can minimize symptoms. But in 25-30 percent of people, drugs don’t work. As an alternative, the FDA approved an implantable device for kids called the Vagus Nerve Stimulator or VNS.
“It involves a battery with a lead that’s placed in the chest. And the lead goes to the vagus nerve in the neck. And what the stimulator does, it turns on and off throughout the day, and it sends electrical signals to the vagus nerve, which sends signal to the brain stem. And can help reduce seizures over time,” says Dr. Philipps.
“The way they explained it to us, is it is a pacemaker for the brain,” says Mendres.
Little Logan may be the youngest child in Southwest Florida to get one.
“It was very emotional to even decide to go with the VNS because it is a surgery and he is so young,” says Mendres.
VNS has been shown to cut the number of seizures in half in 40-50% of kids- but rarely eliminates them all together. Most patients continue on drugs, with a decrease in dosages.
“My hopes and dreams is that he gets to live a normal life. He can’t now,” says Mendres.
Any decrease in seizures means more time Logan can spend just being a kid.