Vagus nerve stimulation therapy: 2-year prospective open-label study of 40 subjects with refractory epilepsy and low IQ who are living in long-term care facilities

Epilepsy Behav. 2005 May;6(3):417-23. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2005.01.009.


Treating seizures among patients with mental retardation/developmental disabilities (MR/DD) is difficult owing in large part to the presence of additional comorbidities and the resulting need for polytherapy. Therefore, a nonpharmacological treatment option is needed for this population. This prospective, open-label study documented the long-term outcome of 40 low-IQ (<70) patients living in long-term care facilities who received vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy for pharmacoresistant epilepsy. Subjects were seen every 1 to 3 months by their neurologist (R.H.). Seizure frequency, antiepileptic medication, and quality-of-life information were documented preimplantation and quarterly thereafter through 2 years. The surgery and therapy were well tolerated. Seizures were reduced by at least 50% for 11 subjects. Antiepileptic medications were reduced from 3.3 per subject at baseline to an average of 2.3 per subject after 2 years. According to caregiver reports, overall quality of life improved for the majority of subjects; also, using the Client Development Evaluation Report (CDER), statistically significant improvements were reported at both 1 and 2 years in attention span, word usage, clarity of speech, standing balance, washing dishes, and household chores. VNS is a viable treatment option for low-IQ patients with pharmacoresistant epilepsy who are living in long-term care facilities.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Demography
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy* / methods
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy / psychology
  • Epilepsy / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intelligence / physiology*
  • Intelligence / radiation effects
  • Long-Term Care
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vagus Nerve / radiation effects*