Epilepsy is a brain disorder in which neurons in the brain sometimes signal abnormally. When someone has epilepsy, the pattern of neuronal activity becomes disturbed, causing strange sensations, emotions and behavior. Sometimes it causes convulsions, muscle spasms and loss of consciousness.
Epilepsy can be caused by anything that disturbs the normal pattern of neuron activity - from illness to brain damage to abnormal brain development. Epilepsy may develop because of an abnormality in brain wiring, an imbalance of the chemicals in the brain or a combination of these factors.
Epilepsy is not a rare condition. In fact, most people know someone who has epilepsy. If you or a loved one is living with epilepsy or a seizure disorder, you are not alone. Epilepsy is as prevalent as Type I diabetes, and more common than Parkinson's disease and Multiple Sclerosis combined. Fortunately, advances in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy are enabling individuals with epilepsy to lead healthy, active lives.
For additional information and resources, please contact the national Epilepsy Foundation and the local affiliate organization, Epilepsy Foundation of North/Central Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska.
Epilepsy Monitoring Center
When a patient is referred to Trinity's Epilepsy Monitoring Center, they will be required to stay for approximately five to seven days and their seizures will be monitored 24 hours a day through video surveillance and EEG monitoring. In addition, brain MRI, PET scan and other neuro imaging tests will be performed. Through this monitoring, doctors will be able to pinpoint exactly where the seizure focus is and the best way to treat the patient.
Comprehensive review helps patients by:
- Establishing the diagnosis of epilepsy
- Differentiating between seizure types
- Quantifying seizure frequency
- Evaluating spells with inconclusive routine EEGs
- Evaluating episodic events in which non-epileptic attacks are suspected
- Evaluating confirmed epileptics with poorly documented seizures
- Differentiating between neurological and cardiovascular-related problems
- Adjusting antiepileptic medication levels
- Evaluating patients prior to withdrawal of medication
- Evaluating patients with undetermined seizures prior to granting driving privilege
After the monitoring is complete and doctors feel they have a good sample of the patient's seizure patterns and seizure focus, treatment will then be discussed with the patient and their family.
As part of Trinity's comprehensive program, a patient's history and prior medical records are carefully reviewed in detail. Diagnostic studies are also used to classify the seizure or epilepsy type. When seizures cannot be controlled by medication, patients may be candidates for surgery. Once an accurate diagnosis is made, we can offer a variety of treatment options. Patients with intractable seizures whose epilepsy diagnosis remains uncertain after outpatient evaluation may be admitted to Trinity's Epilepsy Monitoring Center.