By Renee Beasley Jones Messenger-Inquirer
When it comes to 16-year-olds, Destiny Beavin of Hartford is rare.
In August, she became the first child in Kentucky to receive a responsive neurostimulation system, or RNS. Also, she’s one of only a few dozen children in the nation to have the device, which was placed under her scalp and into her skull.
The RNS includes electrodes implanted around a lesion in Destiny’s brain. The electrodes constantly scan her brain waves, looking for seizure activity. When the electrodes detect a problem, they emit electrical current to shorten or stop seizures.
When Destiny was a preschooler, she was diagnosed with focal cortical dysplasia, a congenital abnormality in brain development that causes epilepsy. As a result, she suffered from daily seizures as a preschooler.
They lasted a few seconds to a minute. Destiny would convulse, stop breathing and pass out.
As she aged, her seizures increased in number and severity. However, thanks to the RNS, Destiny has been seizure-free about six months.
“It saved my life,” she said. “If I hadn’t gotten it, I would have ended up dying.”
Early on, her parents, James Beavin and Lori Davenport, took her to Riley Children’s Hospital and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“They basically told us she was going to die,” he said.
The lesion in Destiny’s brain was in an area that controlled the right side of her body. After seizures, she struggled to walk, and her right arm had far less function.
Medications to control her seizures failed to produce the desired result.
Removing the lesion surgically carried risk. Because of the lesion’s position, removing all of it could paralyze her right arm.
Dr. Karen Skjei, a neurologist at Norton Children’s Hospital and University of Louisville Physicians, researched a new alternative: the RNS.
“Her prognosis is great,” Skjei said. “As long as she remains seizure-free, she can drive, etc. And if her seizures do come back, we can adjust the RNS ….”
Dr. Ian Mutchnick, pediatric epilepsy neurosurgeon with Norton Children’s Hospital and Norton Neuroscience Institute, implanted Destiny’s RNS during a 10-hour surgery.
“I think (the RNS) opens doors for patients who didn’t have solutions before,” Mutchnick said.
Since getting the neurostimulator, Destiny goes to physical, speech and occupational therapy at Wendell Foster. Her right arm is gaining strength.
In fact, since her surgery, she tackled her 13-year-old brother Dylan Beavin, who weighs about 260 pounds.
Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, [email protected].com