As a toddler, Meghan Benavides was diagnosed with Lennox Gastaut Syndrome – a severe form of epilepsy characterized by repeated seizures beginning early in life and causing developmental delays. Her mother and primary caregiver Melissa’s days were consumed by caring for Meghan and the effects of her seizures.
It wasn’t until much later in Meghan’s life that an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit evaluation at Memorial Hermann confirmed the type of seizures she was experiencing, showing she qualified for vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy. In February 2022, Nitin Tandon, MD, professor and chair ad interim of the Vivian L. Smith Department of Neurosurgery with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston and neurosurgeon at Memorial Hermann, implanted the VNS device, with an aim to prevent or lessen seizures by sending regular, mild pulses of electrical energy to the brain via the vagus nerve.
“We now have access to several new neuromodulation techniques that directly target the brain, but the efficacy of vagus nerve therapy in certain cases continues to be impressive,” said Tandon, the Nancy, Clive and Pierce Runnels Distinguished Chair in Neuroscience of the Vivian L. Smith Center for Neurologic Research and the BCMS Distinguished Professor in Neurological Disorders and Neurosurgery with McGovern Medical School. “Given its minimally invasive characteristics, it is a great option in patients with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.”
Since then, Hina Dave, MD, associate professor in the Department of Neurology with McGovern Medical School and neurologist at UTHealth Houston Neurosciences, has managed Meghan’s VNS, increased the dosage of her anti-seizure medication Clobazam, and added on a new medication called Fintepla, which has dramatically reduced the number and severity of seizures Meghan – who is now 32 years old – has on a daily basis. Despite being on fewer medications now than she was when she came to UTHealth Houston, Melissa says Meghan is doing better than ever, thanks to the care she received.
“Initially, she was having anywhere from 15 to 20 seizures a day. Now, I can’t even count on my hand how many she’s having,” Melissa said. “She’s more alert, more aware, more happy-go-lucky. Her life as a whole has just evolved.”
At the Bedside is a series of patient stories with UTHealth Houston physicians and staff.
Media Inquiries: 713-500-3030