Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which brief, recurrent changes in the electrical activity of the brain lead to seizures or ‘fits’, lasting from a few seconds to several minutes.
During an epileptic seizure, brain cells may fire at many times their normal rate. In a partial seizure, only a part of the brain is involved, while in a primary, generalised seizure, the entire brain is involved.
There are many different causes of epilepsy. For example, traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain tumours are known to lead to epilepsy. It is also becoming more apparent in recent years that specific genetic disorders are linked to the development of epilepsy.
There was previously some concern regarding the possible development of epilepsy after treatment with thrombolysis (a clot busting drug for patients with stroke). However, Professor Yan’s research has demonstrated that this is not the case and that thrombolysis does not increase the risk of epilepsy.
Weblink to Professor Yan’s academic paper: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22957978
Download Professor Yan’s academic paper on the relationship between thrombolysis and epilepsy.
In order to get an accurate diagnosis, and to identify any underlying condition, patients will require a brain scan and a thorough physical examination. In a small number of cases [e.g. brain tumours], once the underlying illness is identified and treated, the seizures will stop.
Drug therapy is successful in preventing seizures in approximately 70–80 per cent of cases. A number of different drugs are used to control seizures, depending on the type of seizure the patient has experienced. These include carbamazepine, ethosuximide, etc.
Surgery may be considered for those patients who suffer frequent or severe seizures that cannot be controlled by medication.
The monitoring of epilepsy is emerging as possibility for patients. Bernard Yan and his team have developed a device to monitor the progress of epilepsy patients.
Weblink to Professor Yan’s academic paper: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23647194
Download Bernard Yan’s academic paper on monitoring of epilepsy patients.