Students Push on with Epilepsy

Andrew Bright

Students Push on with Epilepsy

Macie Burnett, Reporter

The Epilepsy Foundation stated that approximately 50 out of every 100,000 people develop epilepsy each year and that over 3 million Americans are affected by epilepsy and seizures.


Epilepsy is a disorder where a nerves cell activity in the brain is disturbed, which causes seizures. According to writer of the article Epilepsy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments,  Christian Nordqvist said, “Seizures occur because of a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain.” In other words the electrical activity in the brain begins to overload causing the brain to become “mixed up” or “halted”.


Nordqvist mentioned, “What a patient with epilepsy experiences during a seizure will depend on what part of the brain the epileptic activity starts, and how widely/quickly is begins to spread from that area.”


There are three different types of diagnoses that a doctor can make to qualify as epilepsy- idiopathic, cryptogenic, and symptomatic.

Idiopathic- this is when there is no apparent cause for the seizing.

Cryptogenic- the doctor thinks there is most likely a cause, but are unable to point out where it is

Symptomatic- the doctor knows what the cause is


Not only do seizures have different diagnoses but they also have different descriptions for types of seizures that may occur. Usually depending on what part of the brain the epileptic activity is associated with.

One of the descriptions is partial seizure. A partial seizure is where epileptic activity takes place but is only in a particular part of the patient’s brain. Within this seizure there are two levels that may occur:

  1. The first level is called Simple Partial Seizure. During this seizure the patient is conscious and is often aware of where he/she is, even though they are seizing.
  2. The second level is when the patient’s consciousness is disabled. Meaning that in general, after the seizure has developed, the patient will not remember and if they do, they will only have a vague recollection of the seizure.

Generalized seizures come next. When both halves of the brain contain epileptic activity, this is called a generalized seizure. During this the patient loses consciousness.

The last type is a secondary generalized seizure which is when the epileptic activity starts as a partial seizure, but then spreads to both halves of the brain. As this happens consciousness is lost.


Although epilepsy sounds as if it is an incurable disease, professionals have found ways to contain and even get rid of the seizures.


The director of the multiple sclerosis clinic at Emory University in Atlanta, Neil Lava said that most people can control their seizures with the assistance of medication, but for 30% of patients medicine is intolerable or isn’t effective. Which leaves only one option open–brain surgery.


Lava said, “the seizure focus is the area of the brain where the seizures start and surgery can only be considered until this focus is clearly identified. If the affected area that is in need of removal holds any critical functions including language, sensation and/or movement, then surgery is not an option. Extensive evaluation and testing are necessary to determine if surgery is appropriate.”


The thought of brain surgery, to most people, is quite terrifying. For people with epileptic seizures that are intolerant of medication, special diets [etc], surgery is the best and possibly the only available option.


Surgical options depend upon the type of seizures along with the area of the brain where they start. Several options Lava introduced are:

  • Lobe resection
  • Lesionectomy
  • Corpus callosotomy
  • Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS)

And many more.


For more information about types of surgeries available you can visit For the full article of Epilepsy: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments written by Christian Nordqvist visit If you would like to view more treatment options