Epilepsy & Seizures

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Advanced Care for Seizure Disorders

A seizure is a sudden and uncontrolled surge of electricity in the brain. These surges can cause intense symptoms, such as uncontrollable movements or loss of consciousness, or you may not even notice them. If you have two or more seizures at least 24 hours apart that aren’t brought on by a known cause, you could have epilepsy. This seizure disorder affects 5% to 10% of all Americans.

Seizures can affect anyone, and they can have significant effects on your quality of life without the proper care. Personalized treatment for seizures and epilepsy is important. That’s what you can expect from our neurology experts at Baystate Health.

Baystate Medical Center is the only hospital in western Massachusetts with epileptologists (neurologists who specialize in treating people with epilepsy) on staff. Along with our neuropsychologists, neuroradiologists and neurosurgeons, we’re here to provide the expert care you need.

What Causes Seizures?

Seizures can be caused by many conditions. Some of these include:

  • Birth injuries
  • Brain tumor
  • Certain autoimmune disorders, including lupus and multiple sclerosis
  • Certain viral or bacterial infections
  • Head injuries
  • High fever
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stroke
  • Use or misuse of certain drugs or alcohol, including withdrawal from these substances

Diagnosing Epilepsy and Other Causes of Seizures

Our diagnostic process starts with a thorough physical exam and review of your symptoms and medical history. Your doctor may also recommend one or more tests to determine the cause of your seizures. These tests may include:

Learn more about our diagnostic options.

Our Epilepsy and Seizure Treatment Options

Once we’ve identified the cause of your seizures, you and your care team will work together to create a customized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs. Depending on your condition and symptoms, your treatment plan may include:

  • Medication: Epilepsy medications often play a key role in treatment.
  • Specialized diet: A ketogenic diet, high in fat and low in carbohydrates, can help you better control seizures.
  • Electrical stimulation: Our surgeons can implant devices to stimulate nerves or brain tissue to reduce or stop seizures.
  • Brain surgery: This may be an option if you have medically refractory epilepsy, which means you don’t get enough benefit from medications and other approaches.

In addition to our comprehensive seizure and epilepsy care, we provide focused care to patients in special populations who have epilepsy in our outpatient practice at Baystate Neurology in Springfield. These special populations include women of childbearing age and older adults.

Treating First-Time Seizures
We see patients within a week of new onset seizures. These are people who’ve experienced a seizure for the first time. By evaluating patients quickly, we can provide the right evaluation and treatment.

If you have experienced a seizure for unknown reasons, our team of experts will help determine the cause of your seizure. We will get your complete history and perform a physical exam. If necessary, we will also set up additional testing that includes an EEG (electroencephalogram) and brain imaging, such as a CT scan or an MRI.
Treating Chronic Epileptic Seizures
We also provide care for people throughout the region who are referred here for acute or chronic difficult-to-treat epileptic seizures. We also routinely offer second opinions.

In addition to routine EEGs and 24-hour ambulatory EEGs, we provide intensive epilepsy monitoring in an inpatient setting. Epilepsy monitoring includes video-EEG (continuous, prolonged EEG recording along with video recording) for people undergoing pre-surgical evaluation. Video-EEG can also help us determine the cause if we’re not yet certain of your diagnosis.
Treating Special Populations
In our outpatient practice, Baystate Neurology in Springfield, we work to ensure proper care of special populations of people with epilepsy, such as women of childbearing age and the elderly.

For people with seizures that are not adequately controlled with medication (also known as medically refractory epilepsy), we provide surgical options, including excisional surgery and neural stimulators.
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