Treatment Options

 
If I have seizures, do I need to see a neurologist who specializes in epilepsy?
•  What can I expect from my neurologist or epileptologist?
•  What are some of the possible treatment options?
•   J. Kiffin Penry Patient Travel Assistance Fund
   The Epilepsy Foundation on medical marijuana and epilepsy.


If I have seizures, do I need to see a neurologist who specializes in epilepsy?

Though you don't 'need' to see a neurologist who specializes in epilepsy, it is recommended. It is important to have a doctor who not only knows about epilepsy in depth, but also has a better understanding of treatment for different types of seizures. The treatment and drug therapy often depends on what type of seizure you have. Request that your primary doctor or pediatrician refer you to a neurologist who specializes in epilepsy. The neurologist or epilepsy specialist can work with your primary doctor to manage your seizures. Also, it is important to feel at ease with your doctor and to let him or her know exactly what's bothering you. Chances are, he or she has seen and heard similar situations before and may be able to advise and help you.

MINNESOTA IS HOME TO FOUR MAJOR EPILEPSY CENTERS: the University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic, MINCEP Epilepsy Care and Minnesota Epilepsy Group.  Specialty care is also available at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare, Minneapolis Clinic of Neurology, Noran Neurological Clinic and more.  For more information on the different levels of epilepsy centers click here.

What can I expect from my neurologist or epileptologist?

The epilepsy specialist will work with your primary doctor to:

    1
Verify that seizures are epileptic in nature. (Epilepsy isn't always the case especially if the seizure happens only once)
   
    2
Define seizure types and the epilepsy syndrome. (This will enable the doctor to discern which treatment is best for you. 
Different seizure types require different medicines sometimes.)
   
    3
Prove the likely cause of epileptic seizures and stop trigger factors. (This will help to limit future seizures.)
   
    4
Establish an early treatment plan based on #1 to #3 and discussions with the patient and family. (This helps to facilitate epilepsy and seizure management plan. It also allows everyone involved to be on the same page.)
   
    5
Monitor seizure control and recognize adverse effects of seizures and treatment on quality of life. (This process makes sure that the plan and strategy taken is right for you. Be sure to tell your doctor(s) any concerns that you might have regarding the treatment and/or seizures even if these concerns seem trivial to you...)
   
    6
If the first treatment plan does not work, explore other treatment options. (There are more options and strategies than just one. Don't give up if it doesn't work the first time...sometimes it will take time for your body to adjust to medicines...and sometimes, different medicines or routines could have a more favorable result.)


What are some of the possible treatment options?

MEDICATION

Click here to link to the national Epilepsy Foundation website for more information about medications, side-effects, generics, etc.

For information about specific medicines, use the Medications Database.

SURGERY

Surgery is an option for some kinds of seizures. There are various types of surgeries. 


Click here to link to the national Epilepsy Foundation website for more information about surgeries for epilepsy.

SPECIAL DIETS

The Ketogenic Diet burns fat instead of glucose and is fasting induced; it must be strictly managed and maintained daily. 80% of the calories come from fat.

The Modified Atkins Diet requires carbohydrates to be monitored.  The Low Glycemic Index Treatment monitors how food raises blood glucose levels.  It is based more on portion control.  Carbohydrates are increased with a low Glycemic index. Each diet is made to fit each individual and should be done under medical supervision.

VAGUS NERVE STIMULATION

This type of treatment is designed to prevent seizures by interrupting the process of seizure development in the brain.

VNS involves implanting a small, flat battery in the wall of the chest, linked by electrodes to the large vagus nerve in the neck. Tiny electrical signals are programed to go into the brain via the vagus nerve.

RESPONSIVE NEUROSTIMULATION

Responsive neurostimulation or RNS® is a device that directly stimulates the brain to help stop or control seizures.

The stimulator is surgically implanted in the skull that is attached to one or two EEG leads. These leads are implanted in or on top of the brain where the seizures begin.




J. Kiffin Penry Patient Travel Assistance Fund

Travel scholarships are available to individuals who have had to travel more than 50 miles from their home to receive FDA-approved medical care and/or treatment for their epilepsy/seizure disorder, but lack adequate financial resources to meet the cost of this travel without bearing financial hardship.

Click here for eligibility and program guidelines.

 

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