GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Ten thousand people in Michigan are living with epilepsy and one in 26 people will develop epilepsy during their lifetime. A local doctor says new breakthroughs can make a difference in the way it’s treated.

“Epilepsy is a brain disorder, it’s characterized by an excess of electrical activity that, in so many words, hijacks the networks of the brain that ordinarily do what we want them to do,” said Dr. David Burdette, epilepsy section chief at Corewell Health, formerly known as Spectrum Health, in Grand Rapids.

He said usually the disorder is treated by antiseizure medications. An expensive machine called a magnetoencephalography machine, commonly referred to as MEG, was recently installed at Corewell. It can help diagnose epilepsy that may not have been so easy to spot before.

“This machine is very unique. Ordinarily for epilepsy, we analyze the brain with electrodes that are placed on the head and we look at electrical fields. But those are blurred by the skull. With a MEG, or magnetoencephalogram, we are looking at the magnetic fluctuations of the brain that is not distorted by the skull and it gives us new insights into the functioning of the brain and how to treat epilepsy,” said Burdette.

Other recent breakthroughs may help treat generalized epilepsy in a new way. Burdette said a NAUTILUS trial allows doctors to implant deep structures of the brain and treat the seizures through electricity rather than medications.

“It’s an exciting time to be a treater of epilepsy,” said Burdette.