After years of uncontrolled seizure activity, Christopher Borck resigned himself to a life of isolation. Epilepsy prevented the otherwise healthy young man from doing everyday things like driving a car and living independently. Even though he was taking seizure-control medication, his seizures were frequent and unpredictable. When they started happening about every two weeks, and several resulted in injury, Christopher decided he had enough of accidentally hurting himself and being closed off from the world.
Everything changed after he contacted the Texas Comprehensive Epilepsy Program at Memorial Hermann–Texas Medical Center. A weeklong stay in the epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) identified the source of his seizures and doctors were able to find a treatment to give him back the life he was missing.
Epilepsy, a neurological condition characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures, is the second-most common neurological condition and affects more than three million Americans. Medication can be effective at controlling seizure activity, but unfortunately not all patients find relief and are left with a diminished quality of life.
“It started when I was 12 years old,” says Christopher. “I think I had about four or five seizures the night it started, and my mom was absolutely terrified.” After a battery of tests, doctors diagnosed him with epilepsy. Christopher tried multiple different medications, but nothing stopped the seizures. He was unable to live an active, full life.
Frustrated and losing hope, Christopher came to the Memorial Hermann Mischer Neuroscience Institute looking for a miracle. And, that’s exactly what he found. He was 33 years old when he stayed in the EMU for a week where he remained under constant supervision. Using leading-edge technology, doctors applied stress to his brain to intentionally cause seizure activity. The data they collected during Christopher’s stay allowed them to identify the specific part of the brain that was causing the seizures and they determined a treatment option that would finally bring relief.
“They placed electrodes not on the scalp, but directly on the brain, and saw there was a knot in my brain where the seizures were coming from,” Christopher said. Doctors recommended surgery to remove that portion of brain tissue and gave him a 60-percent chance of being seizure free with medication.
It has been two years since surgery, and Christopher has not had any seizures. Finally, he is free to get out of his home, meet new people and experience all the things a young adult should. “Everything is opening up,” he said. “I met my now wife, Jessica, and we got married, moved into a house and had a baby.”
Christopher’s experience as an epilepsy patient guides him each day in his career as an EEG technologist and magnetoencephalography (MEG) technologist. In a full-circle moment, his professional journey brought him to Memorial Hermann where he now cares for patients who are dealing with some of the same epilepsy challenges he faced.
We are recognized as a Level 4 epilepsy center by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC). This highest designation is reserved for programs with the experience to provide specialized medical and surgical treatment for complex epilepsy cases.
Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU)
Our epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) is the largest and most comprehensive in the region. Patients with medically uncontrolled seizures, those with an unknown cause of seizure activity, and those being evaluated for surgery can be assessed during an inpatient stay in the EMU, where they are monitored 24/7 to detect even the smallest sign of seizure activity.
We are one of the few epilepsy programs to provide clinical magnetoencephalography (MEG) studies, and patients who are seeking a solution to seizures that are not controlled with medication come from around the nation and the world. Memorial Hermann brought the first magnetoencephalography (MEG) to Houston in 1996, and it is one of the longest, uninterrupted operating MEG centers in the country.
Magnetoencephalography is a noninvasive diagnostic process for evaluating epilepsy and other neurological conditions by locating abnormalities inside the brain. This advanced technology maps brain function and pinpoints the precise source of seizure activity. With this important information, physicians can create a targeted treatment plan aimed directly at the identified area of the brain.