Dell Children's Medical Center first in state to treat children using new tool

There's a new tool that helps surgeons determine exactly where brain functions are located, such as speech or movement -- so they can avoid these areas during operations.

AUSTIN - Caden Griffin was anxious Tuesday morning just before his neuro-navigated transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS, procedure at Dell Children's Medical Center in East Austin.

Griffin was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 2-years-old. He has been suffering from seizures for 12 years now. His parents want them to stop.

"The scary part is missing it or if we're not there to help him because he really relies on us to help him get through that to keep him safe," said Jessica Griffin, Caden's mother.

The 14-year-old has already been through one brain surgery to try to get rid of the seizures.

It didn't work.

Before he goes through any more surgeries, his parents heard about TMS and how it could make a difference in future surgeries.

The procedure is unique because the computer is able to show exactly what part of the brain is being stimulated. Prior to this, it was impossible to know if the correct part of the brain was being stimulated. Now, we can see the brain and precisely direct the magnetic stimulation to the proper area.

"Take a person's 3D reconstructed MRI scan and use that as a reference point so when we are activating that part of the brain, we know exactly where we are activating," said Dr. Freedom Perkins, a pediatric neurologist at Dell Children's Medical Center. 

The TMS stimulated Griffin's hands.

"I felt them twitching," the teen said.

While Griffin felt the twitching, it didn't hurt him.

With this information, surgical procedures can be planned to remove diseased brain while minimizing damage to parts of the brain that are working correctly.

"If a person has epilepsy or a brain tumor, we want to know what parts of the brain we can surgically intervention and do a procedure with or parts of the brain you don't want to touch," Perkins said.

Allowing Griffin's father to hope that one day, his son can be seizure free.

"I think this is as hopeful as we've been in a while and so I think they've figured out as closely as they can on where it is and I think this is going to be the one that does it," Griffin said.

TMS is covered by insurance.

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