Matty Fund grant will aid VA Medical Center in epilepsy research, treatment

Matty Fund grant will aid VA Medical Center in epilepsy research, treatment


Marisol Garcia, executive director of the Matty Fund; Dr. W. Curt LaFrance Jr., the principle investigator for the study; Dr. Susan MacKenzie, director of the Providence VA Medical Center; Karen Gardner, a Veteran patient who participated in an earlier study of nonepileptic seizures; Linda Lynch, development and outreach director of the Matty Fund; and Mary Ford, executive director of Ocean State Research Institute, the nonprofit arm of the Providence VA Medical Center, following a project update meeting at the center on Thursday. | Photo courtesy of the Providence VA Medical Center / Winfield Danielson

PROVIDENCE — The Providence VA Medical Center is seeking to improve the lives of veterans with epilepsy and a grant from the Matty Fund could help develop an effective treatment model to be used nationwide, according to the center’s director.

The center announced Thursday that it had received the grant from the Matty Fund, a Rhode Island-based nonprofit, for a research project investigating the psychological and social challenges experienced by veterans with epileptic seizures, and effective clinical care for them.

“The Matty Fund recognizes the increasing need for research and the clinical care of veterans with seizures,” said Dr. Susan MacKenzie, director of the Providence VA Medical Center. “We are grateful for their support and hopeful this project will develop effective treatments that will improve the lives of affected veterans nationwide.”

Veterans present unique challenges because their seizure-related psychosocial difficulties are often amplified by post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, or TBI, two conditions common in veterans. Among the goals is developing effective treatments of psychosocial comorbidities.

The medical center has been using a 12-session seizure therapy intervention in veteran patients with nonepileptic seizures, a press release said, resulting in a reduction in seizures, less anxiety and depression symptoms and better quality of life. The treatment has been used successfully for epilepsy in non-veterans at other facilities. Support from the Matty Fund will allow bridging of treatments, research, training and education by supporting a student who will work with the study. This will facilitate the medical center in providing seizure therapy in a new pilot study treating 10 veterans with epilepsy, a press release said. The veterans will continue existing treatment with their current care providers, along with the additional seizure therapy.

The study will assess seizures, comorbid symptoms, quality of life and functioning.

— Sun Staff

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