Epilepsy is a common serious neurological condition. Dr Wendyl D’Souza talks about what can be done for people diagnosed with epilepsy, and the resources available to them.

Transcript

Hello. My name is Wendyl D’Souza. I’m a neurologist specialising in epilepsy at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, and an epidemiologist jointly, at the University of Melbourne and the Menzies Research Institute in Tasmania. I joined the Editorial Advisory Board of the Virtual Neuro Centre three years ago, and today I would like to share with you my insights on epilepsy.

Epilepsy is the most common, serious neurological condition. About 10-12% of people will have a seizure and 3-4% will have epilepsy at some stage in their life. I try and understand the causes and consequences of epilepsy, as an epilepsy specialist, by diagnosing and treating individual patients, while as an epidemiologist I try and do this by studying epilepsy in large groups of people with the condition. I therefore spend all my time treating, researching, educating, training and communicating knowledge about epilepsy.

I do this to try and improve services and care for patients, especially by prevention, diagnosis and treatment. In my work I see many patients and families who are resigned to putting up with the uncertainty of not knowing what is causing their seizures, having untreatable seizures, or experiencing side effects from their medication.

We now generally expect to stop seizures completely, with medicines, in about 70% of patients, without causing troubling side effects, in maybe about 60%. In patients whose epilepsy is not well controlled with medicines, specialist epilepsy centres such as St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, conduct detailed investigations to work out what kind of epilepsy they have and to see whether a brain operation would be useful.

These tests can involve video EG monitoring, where we film the patients and monitor their brain waves during a seizure, or to look for the footprints of their epilepsy, and to conduct detailed brain imaging studies, to look for any birth mark or scar on the brain that may be causing their epilepsy. This can often help us to work out whether changing their medication or performing an operation is the best way to try and control their epilepsy.

We now know by stopping seizures without causing side effects, gives the best chance of people with epilepsy the certainty to enable them to learn at school, drive a car, get and keep a job, have children safely, and get back on with their lives.

Thank you for watching, and have a nice day.

More information

monitoring-epilepsy-100x100 For everything you need to know about epilepsy, visit Epilepsy.