After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.
Electrical Brain Waves
Electrical Impulse Control for Epileptic Patients
Epileptic patients undergo convulsions; along with confusion for short periods of time and quite often the cause is often unknown. According to The Epilepsy Foundation there are 65 million people worldwide that suffer from this disorder.
When a large number of neurons in the brain send out an electrical charge at the same time the intensity of this occurrence overwhelms the brain causing a seizure. This will cause muscle spasms, usually a loss of consciousness, incontinence and other symptoms.
This is the most common neurological disorder in the United States.
There are, however, numerous types of seizures. There are also different types of seizures that occur in the four areas of the brain, which include the frontal, temporal, parietal and the occipital lobes. Different types of epilepsy require different types of treatments.
When I was in fifth grade and walking out of school one sunny day, this girl I didn’t know fell to the ground and was shaking all over. Teachers came running out of the school, and they took her back into the school after a few minutes. We had no idea of why this happened, and I remember being frightened. I was even frightened of her, as I simply didn’t know any better. The next day I remember the teachers telling us she had some kind of disease, but I was still skeptical as it looked scary to me.
Unfortunately, doctors do not know what causes epilepsy in 7 out of 10 cases. Seizures when the cause is unknown are called idiopathic seizures. Many things may cause a seizure, including a high fever, especially in a child. If your child has a high fever (102°) or higher, place them into a tepid water bath to bring the fever down, then get some medical care.
Head trauma is another common cause of seizures. There are several types of seizures and genetic research is ongoing to seek a cure.
Seizures are diagnosed by how they look and an EEG (Electroencephalography) can help determine the type. The EEG is a test that measures the voltage of the brain neurons.
Types of Seizures
Some seizures are so mild they may go on for years undiagnosed. Obviously, the type of seizure that leaves you on the ground shaking all over is quite noticeable.
Seizures do not necessarily do long term brain damage, particularly in children. However, there is a condition called status epilepticus, which require immediate medical attention as it is a very prolonged seizure. Status epilepticus is a seiure lasting more than five minutes or it is multiple seizures where the person does not have time to recover between the seizures.
Treatment of Seizures
The onset of epilepsy in the elderly has increased, particularly after the age of 60. Nursing homes have seen an increase in this diagnosis and the use of anti-epileptic drugs, such as:
- Phenytoin - slows down impulses in the brain that cause seizures
- Carbamazepine - decreases nerve impulses causing seizures
- Phenobarbital - a barbiturate that slows brain and nervous system activity
These medications are also used to treat other diseases common to the elderly, like neuralgias, essential tremors and other behavior disorders. The assessment in the elderly is sometimes difficult due to other diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, strokes and other diseases.
New Treatment for Seizures
The “Cyberonics’ Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS)” was approved in 1997, and is an implanted device designed to detect and stop seizures. This device is only helpful for some people. Another remarkable advancement that is more effective is an implantable device that detects electrical brain activity, which was designed for patients with epilepsy.
The devices detect a seizure as they start and the device actually prevents them before they happen using electrical stimulation. These devices are particularly helpful for people whose seizures begin in a section of the brain referred to as the “seizure focus”.
Besides the electrical stimulation, these devices may include drug delivery and cooling, each designed to interrupt seizure activity. The cooling device detects the temperature of the brain rising indicating an oncoming seizure, and it cools the brain immediately preventing the seizure from occurring.
These devices are certainly the newest treatment for epilepsy and have the potential to change the life of an epileptic patient.
Implantable Device May Predict Seizures
This area of research is a fantastic discovery for the epileptic patient as many seizures are not controlled with medications.
Epilepsy is a difficult disease for the patient and their family. In my nursing years, I remember a young man who had to wear a football helmet all the time. He had such frequent seizures causing brain injury from falls were a real threat. It is importnt to ontinue with the research to help these patients.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on April 16, 2020:
For a person who has very frequently sizures this must be a miracle. Thanks for commenting, as always.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 15, 2020:
Some of the medical advances like this are amazing. Thanks for keeping us advised of these advances which seem to get better and better over time.
Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 18, 2012:
One-life, Thank you so much for your comments.
Ar Az from Los Angeles, CA on December 18, 2012:
Great Article and very informative.
Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 08, 2012:
CloudExploxer, The Cyberonics is the trade name for the device I wrote about, but there are other devices being tested also. Thanks so much for your comments.
Mike Pugh from New York City on December 08, 2012:
Hi Pamela, I had a very close family friend who had suffered from this disease and I had always wondered why he would fall the floor just as you wondered as a child.
I was a child back then as well, and so it was pretty tramatic to watch, and after a while I couldn't watch him any longer because his seizures were pretty violent.
This article is pretty extensive, and I enjoyed learning from reading it, and will bookmark it for a future read again. The interesting aspect was towards the end with the electrical stimulation treatment you pointed out there and the other cyber thingy.
Overall superbly written hub, and its was very useful for me to understand more about the disease as I never really studied up on it all. Outstanding job! thumbs up and out.
Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 06, 2012:
Dianne, I am hoping so many will be helped with this new development. Thanks so much for your comments.
Dianna Mendez on December 05, 2012:
Well done and very educational. My aunt was prone to seizures and I only wish this would have been available to here back then. Thanks for the news and hope.
Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 05, 2012:
Ruby, I sure hope it helps for people like your patientm. Thanks so much for your comments.
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 04, 2012:
This is very interesting Pam. I remember one man in particular who was my patient, he had continuous grand mal seizures that lasted for hours. He died. The reason for his seizures were unknown. I am so glad for the new technology, i'm sure it will save many lives. Thank you for keeping up with the new treatments and sharing with us.
Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 04, 2012:
drbj, I am really impressed with this breathrough as so many cannot be helped with medication. Thanks so much for your comments.
drbj and sherry from south Florida on December 03, 2012:
Thanks for sharing the news, Pamela, of this new implantable device that can detect and prevent brain seizures in epileptic patients. What a tremendous, miraculous breakthrough.
Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 03, 2012:
Billy, I sure do to. Thanks so much for your comments.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 03, 2012:
Fascinating information, Pamela! When I was a teen a friend of mine had a seizure and it was a frightening thing to see. I hope this research eases the journey for so many who suffer from epilepsy.
Pamela Oglesby (author) from Sunny Florida on December 03, 2012:
eHealer, I am so glad you found the hub interesting and that you shared it. Thank you for your comments.
Deborah from Las Vegas on December 03, 2012:
Hey Pamela, this is so interesting!! Just fascinating research, I have shared this with other colleagues and pinned it, FB as well. thanks for this great article!!