Diagnosing and Treating Epilepsy

 

 

Epilepsy is diagnosed when the child experiences two or more seizures with no known cause (e.g. no significant illness, no known fever, or no known physical hit to the head).  Epilepsy is fairly common and it is estimated that 1 in 26 individuals will develop epilepsy over their lifetime (Epilepsy Foundation of America, 2014).

Seizure activity is typically identified by characteristics of an electroencephalogram (EEG).  An EEG is when the individual has several electrodes placed on their head which measures electrical activity.  Seizures are identified by having sudden changes in electrical activity in either the entire brain or specific regions.

There are two main types of seizures with several subtypes underneath them.  Generalized seizures are when there are abnormal
findings on an EEG in all parts of the brain at the same time.  Children who exhibit generalized seizures will lose consciousness.  Partial seizures are when there is limited EEG findings to only one single area in the brain.  Children with partial seizures typically do not lose consciousness.

Epilepsy brainThe usual front line treatment of epilepsy is pharmacological intervention.  Some children do not respond to the anti-epileptic medications and may require surgery to help address seizure activity.

There are numerous cognitive and academic concerns associated with epilepsy.  There is some indication that IQ can be effected by seizure activity.  It is hard to classify specifically what effect there might be with IQ as research has indicated that seizure location as well as age of onset of seizure activity have a major impact on changes in IQ.  Studies have indicated that memory, attention, and executive functioning are often impacted by seizures.  Research has also indicated that children with epilepsy have a much higher rate of special education services for learning issues in the school setting.

It is important that if a child has epilepsy, a comprehensive evaluation be conducted in order to monitor IQ, academic achievement, attention, executive functioning, and memory in order to ensure that he or she is receiving the most efficacious interventions in the classroom setting.
Yeates, Ris, Taylor, & Pennington (2010), Pediatric Neuropsychology: research, theory, and practice

Hunter & Donders (2007), Pediatric Neuropsychology Intervention

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