ENCORE STORY: Comprehensive Adult Epilepsy Care at HHS
You likely know someone who has epilepsy, as it is the fourth most common neurological disorder and affects people of all ages. There are approximately 68,000 Ontarians who live with it daily. Epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by a tendency to have recurrent, unprovoked seizures, resulting in significant impairment in the quality of life. Epilepsy is a spectrum condition with a wide range of seizure types and control varying from person-to-person.
Hamilton Health Sciences, has a comprehensive epilepsy programme that is equipped to take care of the complex needs of patients with epilepsy. It is important for patients and their family physicians to realize that evaluation at an Epilepsy Centre is the best way to ensure adequate treatment of this condition.
There are 3 major goals for the Comprehensive Epilepsy Care Center:
- To ensure proper diagnosis. It is important to make sure that the spells that a person has are indeed epileptic seizures. This will ensure correct choice of treatment strategies and accurate prediction of outcome.
- To give education and support to patients with epilepsy in the many challenges that they face. Patient education empowers the individuals with epilepsy by helping them to better understand the medical and life-style issues involved
- The third goal is to assess patients for suitability for epilepsy surgery. One of the most exciting developments in the last 25 years is the recognition of surgically remediable syndromes that underlie medically refractory epilepsy. Epilepsy surgery has been proven to be the best treatment option for these patients, offering about 60% chance of seizure freedom, as opposed to less than 10% chance of becoming seizure free with antiepileptic drugs.
As experts in the care and treatment of epilepsy, the adult program at the Hamilton General Hospital (HGH) sees close to 2,000 patients each year. As part of the development of a comprehensive program to meet the needs of these patients, both the pediatric and adult programs at Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) have opened up Epilepsy Monitoring Units (EMU), and have been designated as a District Epilepsy Centre (DEC). Within these units, patients often stay for a few days to more than a week, and are monitored around the clock with Electroencephalography (EEG), video and audio monitoring and recording in order to provide invaluable information for the management of epilepsy syndrome. The program houses a comprehensive epilepsy program that provides all appropriate epilepsy related clinical services, with the exception of epilepsy surgery. HHS has a 3 bed Adult EMU located at the Hamilton General Hospital and a 2 bed Pediatric EMU located at MUMC. All of these services help to maximize potential for those living with Epilepsy. Having seizures and epilepsy can affect one’s safety, relationships, work, driving and so much more. How epilepsy is perceived or how people are treated (stigma) often is a bigger problem than the seizures. Without this kind of expertise and resources to diagnose and develop a treatment plan, these patients would be left to manage on their own with in their work, school and home lives until they could get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Through the expertise of a multidisciplinary team, the comprehensive, integrated program at HGH provides not only the right therapeutic regimen, but also the support and guidance needed to help patients adapt to their illness and live to their optimum potential.