Diagnosing and Treating Epilepsy and Seizures

MAY 15, 2017
Amy Jacob

At AAPA 2017, in Las Vegas, Stephanie Chen, MSN, MPH, NP-C, discussed the existing standards of care for treating epilepsy and seizures and stressed the necessity for further education and research. “My presentation at AAPA today really focused on spreading the word about how to treat epilepsy, because despite advances in technology and science (we now offer surgery or devices that can treat epilepsy), the number of referrals to these comprehensive epilepsy centers [over 233 accredited sites] for these surgeries and medical devices haven’t increased over the years.” 
Current standard of care for treating epilepsy and seizure for a patient who has a first time seizure involves getting a high resolution MRI, EEG, and history. She explained that often times the patient can’t really tell what the seizure looked like, so it’s important to get collateral information from family, friends, and coworkers if they witnessed it.
Chen also discussed the idea of surgical procedures in seizures and epilepsy care – it’s not new to the field. In fact, the “newest” device called responsive neuro stimulator (RNS) has been used to monitor brain waves in real time upon implantation. As the physician adjusts the parameters of the device, it can actually pick up on the seizures and deliver an electrical impulse to disrupt the seizure activity. Despite new technologies, some patients still harbor reservations against the surgical procedures, because providers can’t give them a clear number or percentage of the success rate. Many times these surgeries are not curative, they’re palliative, so patients have to carefully consider they could still have seizures even after the surgery – they have to ask themselves if that’s a risk they want to take.

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