Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which individuals
experience recurring seizures. A seizure is a single occurrence
of a sudden change in movement, behavior, consciousness or
sensation caused by a malfunction or "misfiring" of the
electrical system in the brain. The outward signs of a seizure
may include convulsions, brief stares, muscle spasms, odd
sensations or altered consciousness, according to the Epilepsy
Foundation of America.
Physicans on the medical staff at Texas Health
Fort Worth continue to advance the treatment of epilepsy by
participating in the latest drug trials and utilizing
leading-edge surgical techniques. The ultimate goal is a high
quality of life for individuals and families affected by this
Seizures that only occur once may be caused by a traumatic brain
injury, high fever, a tumor, infection or lack of oxygen.
Epileptic seizures usually occur without any known cause, but
factors such as lack of sleep and stress may increase the
occurrence of the seizures. Symptoms include:
- Sudden falls for no reason
- Lack of response to noise or to spoken words for brief
- Dazed and confused behavior
- Unusual sleepiness and irritability when wakened in the
- Head nodding
- Rapid blinking and staring
- Sudden stomach pain followed by confusion and sleepiness
- A blank stare followed by chewing, picking at clothes, random
movement and unresponsiveness to surroundings
- Sudden muscle jerks
The Epilepsy Monitoring Unit
Texas Health Fort Worth features a Level 2 Epilepsy Monitoring
unit (EMU) with access to advanced technology. The purpose of the
unit is to help evaluate and treat patients with complex and
The epilepsy team is made up of medical staff neurologists
specializing in epilepsy (epileptologists), neurologist,
neurosurgeons, and hospital staff including neuropsychologists,
psychiatrists, nuclear radiologists, neuroradiologists,
pharmacologists, electroneurodiagnostic technologists, epilepsy
nurses, social workers and volunteers.
Patients are admitted to EMU for simultaneous audio/video EEG
recordings. Under careful watch of the medical staff physican,
nurses and technologists, seizures are recorded and monitored.
The epilepsy program's multi-specialty team reviews monitoring
results and works with the referring physican to develop an
individualized care plan. Often this approach leads to
recommendations for improved care options. In many cases,
patients' treatment options are enahanced or improved, leading to
better seizure control.
As with many neurological movement disorders, an individual's
medical history and a complete physical and neurological
examination are important to the accurate diagnosis of epilepsy.
When seeing a doctor for seizure treatment, it is important to
tell the physician if the seizure was an isolated event that may
have been triggered by fever or infection, or whether the problem
is a recurring one. Blood tests, EEG tests, MRI scans and CT
scans may also be used by physicians to correctly diagnose
For many people, epilepsy can be controlled, and
many of those with the disorder live a normal life and perform
normal activities. Treatments for epilepsy include drug therapy,
surgery or a special diet. A physician may begin treatment by
prescribing the regular use of seizure-preventing medications.
Surgery may be an option for individuals who do not respond to
medication or who have an underlying condition such as a tumor
that can be surgically removed. Image guided
neurosurgery and radiosurgery are both available.
Vagus nerve stimulation is a therapy used to prevent seizures by
sending small electrical pulses to the brain through the large
nerve in the neck called the vagus nerve. A special,
physician-prescribed and monitored diet called the ketogenic diet
may also be successful in treating children and some adults with
epilepsy. For more information on vagus nerve stimulation or the
ketogenic diet, visit the Epilepsy Foundation of America website.
For more information and scheduling contact the Epilepsy
Monitoring Unit at 817-250-3070.
*** Physician Referral is Required.