March 1, 2022, CLEVELAND: Cleveland Clinic has launched an innovative study exploring the link between epilepsy and stress, supported by a $5.5 million donation from the Charles L. Shor Foundation. The five-year clinical trial is the first of its kind to study and compare the effect of lifestyle interventions, such as yoga, music therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, on seizure control.
The research team will study the impact on seizure frequency as well as epilepsy-associated co-morbidities, such as depression, anxiety, cognitive function and quality of life. The team will follow 1,000 patients with difficult-to-treat epilepsy.
Imad Najm, M.D., will lead the study. Dr. Najm is director of The Charles Shor Epilepsy Center and vice chair of Strategy and Development at Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute.
The funding is part of a $15.5 million gift to Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute announced last year from Charles Shor, a Cincinnati businessman and philanthropist, who was diagnosed with epilepsy in his 20s and had his first seizure at age 25.
Over 3 million people in the United States are living with epilepsy. Despite decades of research, there remain barriers to progress. Current treatments are effective in controlling seizures in only 46% of adults. Stress has been identified as a major risk factor for seizure recurrence and decreased memory function in epilepsy patients. A disproportionate number of patients with epilepsy suffer from faster decline in their memory function as compared to age-matched controls.
“Almost one third of people with epilepsy have recurrent seizures despite the use of multiple anti-seizure medications,” said Dr. Najm. “In addition, epilepsy patients often have cognitive deficits as well as psychosocial and psychiatric issues that impact daily functioning and quality of life, including increased levels of stress. Our study objective is to think of complementary non-pharmacologic interventions to the standard anti-seizure medications to determine if stress relief can potentially reduce seizures and ultimately improve and prevent memory decline.”
The primary goal of the study is to explore the effect of behavioral and wellness–based interventions on seizure frequency in adults with a confirmed diagnosis of epilepsy. Additionally, the team aims to look at the impact these non-pharmacologic interventions may have on patients’ overall stress levels by measuring changes to patients’ cognitive function, mood (such as depression and anxiety) and quality of life.
Researchers will measure the effects of yoga, music therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy interventions using seizure diaries, cognitive assessments, and health and quality of life questionnaires.
In addition to epilepsy research, Shor’s donation supports the future neurological building planned for Cleveland Clinic’s main campus. In honor of his generosity, Cleveland Clinic named the epilepsy center “The Charles Shor Epilepsy Center.”
“Cleveland Clinic’s vision for the future of neurological care is inspiring and gives me hope,” Shor said. “Neurological conditions, and specifically epilepsy, affect so many people in the prime of their lives. By directing these resources to the extraordinary team of doctors and researchers at Cleveland Clinic, I believe I can help to make a significant difference for people living with these diseases.”
For more information about Neurological Institute clinical trials visit: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/departments/neurological/clinical-trials
About Cleveland Clinic
Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 67,554 employees worldwide are more than 4,520 salaried physicians and researchers, and 17,000 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,026-bed health system that includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 19 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2019, there were 9.8 million total outpatient visits, 309,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 255,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.
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