LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)— A Lafayette man is using the assistance of a service dog to help with his epileptic seizures.
Derek Douglass suffers from complex partial seizures and has a service dog to help with his epilepsy. Douglass' seizures are unexpected and he doesn't know when they will happen.
"A lot of the time it will look like I've just spaced out," Douglass said. "I may continue to do things like a normal person would but a telltale sign is if I'm looking like I'm chewing some bubble gum."
Douglass was born with the disease but didn't notice symptoms until he was 19 years old. One day Douglass was driving home and had a seizure without knowing. When he arrived back home, Douglass' father noticed the car had been in a crash. For the last 24 years, Douglass has tried numerous medications to help with no luck.
His doctor recommended trying Vagus Nerve Stimulation Therapy. The therapy requires a device to be put underneath the skin on his chest. VNS gives Douglass' brain a 30-second pulse at steady intervals every three minutes throughout the day.
His service dog Rosco is equipped with a VNS Therapy magnet on his collar. The magnet inside of his collar can be used to send a stronger pulse for a longer period of time to Douglass' brain. The two use a training method called "snuggling" in case of an emergency at home or when he goes to work at Purdue.
Douglass' supervisor Chris Teague said having Rosco around gives him a sense of comfort.
"It's actually a little bit of a load off of my mind too because I know he's with him when Derek will be out and about," Teague said.
Outside of work, Rosco and Douglass enjoy spending time outside and exercising. Douglass said their bond is more than a friendship but also a team effort.