As in other refractory epilepsies, non-pharmacological treatments can be used to prevent seizures. They come in addition to antiepileptic drugs. Keep in mind that each child with Dravet syndrome is unique and that what will work for one child may not work for another one. These non-pharmacological treatments have shown variable results. There are two main alternative treatments.
The ketogenic diet is the most common one. It is a high-fat low-carb (low-sugar) diet, meaning that 90% of energy requirements are provided by lipids. In addition to benefits on the seizure control, it may also improve behaviour. However, it is important to understand that the ketogenic diet is not a natural treatment that is used to replace the antiepileptic drugs. This treatment needs a trained team including doctors, nurses and dieticians along with a total family involvement. It implies regular medical evaluations in order to assess both its relevance and the side effects that may arise. It is constraining and should not be confused with an organic diet.
The vagus nerve carries stimulation input from the brain to a number of organs (lungs, heart, intestines, blood vessel, etc.) and sensations from these organs back to the brain. Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS) therapy may regulate epileptic seizures by an unknown mechanism of action. It consists in the surgical implantation of a device under the skin of the chest, similar to a pace-maker. This device is then connected by a wire hidden under the skin to the vagus nerve in the neck.