Seizures are caused by sudden bursts of excessive and uncontrolled electrical activity in the brain. Seizures can cause partial or complete loss of consciousness, confusion, nonsensical speech, bizarre behavior, involuntary muscle jerks or movements, unusual sensations, or loss of ability to speak.
One in ten persons will have a seizure during his or her life. The tendency to have recurrent unprovoked seizures is called epilepsy. Epilepsy affects more than 3 million Americans. It has a considerable impact on health, employment and quality of life.
- Most patients respond to anti-epileptic medications. Currently there are over 25 seizure medications available. However, about 1/3 of seizure patients will still have seizures despite medications.
- Brain surgery to resect the abnormal brain tissue causing the seizures is increasingly being utilized for patients with medically refractory epilepsy. This is done after a very thorough evaluation. Not everybody qualifies for this surgery, and those patients may benefit from other treatments.
- Neurostimulation uses a device to send electrical impulses to the brain. This can decrease seizure frequency in many patients who failed medications with relatively low risk of side effects. This can include Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS), Responsive Neurostimulation (RNS) and Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS). With an assessment, patients can find out if these devices can be appropriate for them. Currently in epilepsy clinic we take care of many patients with VNS.
- Many other innovative epilepsy therapies are being explored and carry great promise for patients and their care givers.