Success Stories: Epilepsy Trials
Photo by Wendy Savage, BMC Photography
Epilepsy Trial Success Stories
From CVM Magazine (Winter, 2007)
Keppra Seizure Drug Study Service Dog Opens Awareness, Opens Hearts
Julie Ann Nettifee Osborne, BS, RVT
Pamela Brule has known intimately during the last several years--great things do come in small packages, especially one named "Tegan," a Shih Tzu/Poodle mix with stunning brown eyes, an energetic personality packaged into a total of 16 pounds bodyweight.
"Tegan entered my life as a second-hand dog, at about one year of age, being discarded due to a move from a family with children and other dogs. At the time, I knew he had an incredible personality as he began to volunteer with me as a Delta Society therapy dog at the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital in Durham, North Carolina," notes Pamela. "People always noted the unmistakable chemistry between the two of us," she adds.
But within a year, Pamela, a volunteer at the VA, grew to realize that Tegan was much more than just a great companion. As an injury and dystrophic condition began to limit her abilities and vision, Pamela became connected with Barbara Shumannfang, Top Notch Dog, LLC. the Delta Society, and an evaluator from Virginia, to have them evaluate Tegan as much more---as a licensed service dog by North Carolina and the Federal Government under ADA requirements. Overall, more than $5,000 was invested to help Tegan become the partner that he truly has become. His personality, quick learning style, amazing bond to his owner were all traits that took him to the top of the class. He learned how to retrieve items for Pamela, carry a phone, provide general security, "he even helped us out when I got locked in a safety deposit box area at our bank with a teller. It wasn't until Tegan was able to get out of the room and alert other bank personnel that some of his talents were recognized."
But at age three, Tegan had his first Grand Mal seizure; He did not have additional seizures for about two years. He began to receive typical anticonvulsants for canine patients, Phenobarbital and later, Potassium Bromide was added as well. Pamela notes, "He continued to worsen, and as a service dog, seizures-especially uncontrolled," were of great concern to all that worked with Tegan. But in October 2004, Tegan's regular veterinarian at that time, Dr. Andrea Cooper of Cornwallis Road Animal Hospital in Durham received a letter from Dr. Karen Munana, North Carolina State University, College of Veterinary Medicine Neurology Service, recruiting dogs with seizures for a study looking at the adjunctive use of Levetiracetam (Keppra) as an adjunctive treatment option. Tegan fit the study criteria, and over the 44-week study period, responded incredibly to the addition of this drug.
"Being a part of the Keppra Study has changed our perspective and has made all of the difference in the world," notes Pamela. "Prior to being a part of the study Tegan was having at least one cluster of seizures per month.now in the past several months he has only had one seizure which was very short in duration."
Tegan and Pamela are truly a team," he goes everywhere with me.and he has opened so many doors for me. I would not have gone so many places without the support of Tegan." From the Ice Capades, where he was given a front row seat to see Scott Hamilton, to the ballet, to the North Carolina State Wolfpack, "Tegan has truly opened up conversations, and opened up awareness to small dogs doing service work!" comments Pamela.
"I am so excited about the options now opening more for Tegan and I, as studies for such drugs as Keppra, have expanded our horizons. "Tegan has truly been a miracle for me, and Keppra has been an amazing discovery for some dogs with seizures," adds Pamela.
As of November 2007, the Keppra Seizure Drug study is still being conducted and final results from the study will not be compiled until after the study completion in December 2008. For more information regarding this project, or to contribute to further seizure studies in companion animals, contact study coordinator Julie_Osborne@ncsu.edu, 919-513-6812.
Paws of Recognition: Willard Moore and Angel "Molly"