Epilepsy is a complex disease of the brain that affects an estimated 65 million people around the world. In the United States, 1 in 26 people are diagnosed with epilepsy in their lifetime, making epilepsy the fourth most common neurological disorder in the United States.
Living with epilepsy means learning how to handle the way it affects your life, including your social, emotional and physical well-being. Learning how to respond to seizures in a variety of situations is essential, as well as being prepared to handle whatever comes your way.
Fortunately, more treatment options exist today that allow for better outcomes for patients than ever before. While seizure medications are the main source of epilepsy treatment, there are other approaches to think about, too.
Exploring Epilepsy Treatment Options
For patients whose seizures cannot be controlled properly through medication, Emory Epilepsy Center offers patients a mix of both traditional and innovative treatments and services. Our fellowship-trained physicians and support professionals offer fast, easy access to the best diagnostic, treatment, and management services available anywhere. This multidisciplinary team of specialists works together on the development of advanced neurosurgical techniques, medication trials, and brain stimulation methods, along with a multitude of other innovative approaches.
About 70 percent of epilepsy patients can achieve complete seizure control using anti-epileptic drugs. By working with you, we make sure the right medications are chosen and adjust as needed in order to guarantee patients accomplish seizure control. It is important to remember that almost every anti-epileptic medication can produce side effects, which is why our clinicians work so closely with patients on this approach. Developing a treatment plan specific to you is our goal while ensuring the best seizure control with the least amount of side effects.
Surgery is another option. Our team of specialists may talk about surgery for a patient’s treatment plan, so it is important to know the various surgical approaches. Generally, when choosing epilepsy surgery, it is only considered an option after patients have tried at least two anti-seizure medications and have not been able to gain control of their seizures. Today’s advanced care includes delivering techniques that are less invasive and offer a faster recovery time. By choosing Emory, each patient experiences the proper treatment catered to fit them specifically, with great care and professionalism.
Procedural options include:
- Stereotactic Laser Ablation (SLA) – targets the small structures in your brain causing seizures and removes them with pinpoint precision
- NeuroPace/Responsive Neurostimulation (RNS) – uses electrodes to detect seizure activity and deliver a small pulse to prevent a seizure before it happens
- Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) – utilizes electrodes implanted deeper into the brain to treat more serious and debilitating cases of epilepsy
- Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) – uses a generator to stimulate the vagus nerve and block the abnormal messages to your brain that are causing seizures
Living with Epilepsy during COVID-19
As we navigate these uncertain times, it is typical to wonder if patients with pre-existing conditions are affected more heavily by COVID-19 than others. Available data from the Epilepsy Foundation suggests that people with epilepsy alone, or with seizures as their main symptoms, do not have a higher risk of getting COVID-19.
If a patient has been diagnosed with epilepsy, it does not mean the severity of COVID-19 increases either. It is recommended that patients continue to discuss their condition with their health care provider to learn and understand their own risk, along with the continuation of their treatment plan as prescribed by their health care provider.
Emory Brain Health Center
The Emory Brain Health Center uniquely integrates neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, rehabilitation medicine and sleep medicine to offer world-class, patient-centered care, treatment and discovery for brain and spinal cord conditions. Bringing these multiple specialties together allows more than 400 researchers and clinicians to work in partnership to predict, prevent, treat and cure devastating diseases and disorders of the brain more rapidly. These collaborations are demonstrated in numerous centers and programs across the Brain Health Center, including the Epilepsy Center, Pituitary Center, Stroke Center, Treatment-Resistant Depression Program and Veterans Program.
Emory’s multidisciplinary approach is transforming the world’s understanding of the vast frontiers of the brain, harnessing imagination and discovery to address 21st century challenges.
Learn more about comprehensive, diagnostic and innovative treatment options at the Emory Brain Health Center.