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J.T. Kohut’s quality of life has never been better since his brain surgery last spring. The 35-year-old had been living with epilepsy since he was diagnosed as an infant. His seizures, which increased to 15-20 per month over the years, ended his promising career as a PGA golfer.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain becomes disrupted, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations and sometimes loss of consciousness. About 1 in 26 people in the United States will develop epilepsy or recurring seizures in their lifetime.
J.T. started playing golf when he was just three years old. By the time he reached high school, the seizures stopped and his golf game soared. He ranked among the top high school golfers in the nation. By his senior year in high school, he had made 14 career holes in one. He did make it to the PGA tour in 2008 and 2009, but by then the seizures came back, forcing him to end his career.
Recently, J.T.’s friend had brain surgery for his epilepsy at Mercy General Hospital to stop his seizures. He suggested J.T. do the same. That’s what brought J.T. to the office of Edwin Cruz, MD, an epilepsy specialist at the Dignity Health Neurological Institute. “I was determined,” said J.T. “The first thing I said to Dr. Cruz was, ‘I’m here for brain surgery.’ I’ve had this my whole life. It was getting worse.”
Image to the right: J.T. Kohut’s Pre-Surgery MRI Results, Physician notes: Left hippocampus- small, increased signal, loss of internal architecture c/w mesial temporal sclerosis. Left temporal lobe smaller in size than the right temporal lobe.
J.T. had intractable epilepsy, which means that medications do not work well, or at all, to control the seizures,” said Edwin Cruz, MD, epilepsy specialist at the Dignity Health Neurological Institute. Intractable epilepsy can have a huge effect on your quality of life and patients get stressed worrying about when the next seizure will happen.”
J.T’s seizures were coming from the left temporal lobe of his brain. Dr. Cruz referred him to Cully Cobb, MD, neurosurgeon at the Dignity Health Neurological Institute, for a left temporal lobectomy to remove seizure causing brain tissue. “Brain surgery for epilepsy is a well-established procedure with excellent results. There is a 70 percent success rate, but patients should know the surgery has some risks,” said Dr. Cobb.
In April 2015, J.T. had successful brain surgery to stop his seizures and so far has been seizure free. He says his life has changed dramatically and he no longer worries about seizures controlling his him. “You know, I was so accustomed to having seizures that not having them and not thinking about them is so different for me,” he said. “It’s a distraction that no longer exists and I am so thankful.”