Electroencephalogram, or EEG, is a vital means of understanding how to treat patients with epilepsy and other seizure disorders. For these patients, it is crucial that the type of seizure be well-documented and understood, or treatment may not be successful. At the Hancock Regional Hospital Sleep Disorders Center, technicians are trained in not only routine EEG but also a form called long-term video EEG.
What’s the difference?
Whereas routine EEG is done while a patient is within the Sleep Center, long-term EEG actually takes place within the patient’s home. A routine EEG at Hancock Regional Hospital lasts for about an hour, which is generous considering many sleep centers only perform a 20-minute test, a much shorter time span in which to try to induce a seizure. Long-term EEG, however, allows a patient to be monitored for almost an entire five-day stretch. A technician visits the patient’s home to connect the device and, if doctor requested, may proceed to induce a seizure. The patient wears the equipment for up to five days, only taking it off for bathroom trips, meal prep, etc. By wearing the EEG equipment for a longer period of time, doctors hope to catch multiple seizures to formulate a more exact prognosis.
Seizures are all unique
As with any condition, the more a doctor understands, the better the outcome for the patient. Seizure disorder patients often describe episodes as “a storm in the brain.” Most seizures begin with what is called an aura, an uptick in abnormal sensations that serve as a warning for the impending full-scale seizure. This “brainstorm” typically lasts for only a short time, the average being about three to five minutes, while others can last much longer. Seizures can be either focal, meaning they happen in a certain area of the brain, or generalized, meaning they affect the entire organ. Some experience only random episodes, while others have them more frequently.
Triggers for the activation of a seizure are varied, ranging from simple, everyday activities like laughing to full-scale flashing lights like we’ve seen in action films or during a concert. Sleeping and waking can also act as triggers for epileptic patients. Because seizures are different for every unique brain, evaluating a patient over the course of an entire week in the hopes of catching as many events as possible can give doctors a much better understanding so they can create an effective treatment plan.
Precise treatment plan
Randy Campbell, director of Hancock Regional Hospital Sleep Disorder Center, is passionate about helping those with epilepsy determine their best treatment plan. He believes prescribing the correct medication — focal and generalized seizures require different treatments — is crucial. By having one of his technicians come into a patient’s home and set them up for long-term EEG then monitoring them from afar, the staff of neurologists gets a clearer picture into the brain of those suffering from this sometimes-debilitating condition.
Long-term EEG helps doctors map the brains of those dealing with seizure disorders and effectively determine a treatment plan that will best minimize symptoms. Seizures can reduce the quality of life, so it is incredibly important for these patients to be on correct medications to control their condition. Campbell and the doctors and staff at Hancock Regional Hospital Sleep Disorder Center are dedicated to ensuring the best outcome for patients by making use of state-of-the-art technology like long-term video EEG.