Advanced Care for Children with Epilepsy & Seizure Disorders
At the Pediatric Epilepsy Center at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital, our multidisciplinary team of epilepsy specialists use a variety of proven methods to treat young patients with seizure disorders.
Call to Schedule an Appointment TodayTo schedule an appointment with a UH Rainbow pediatric epileptologist, call 216-844-6644.
A Collaborative, Multidisciplinary Approach to Treating Epilepsy
Epilepsy requires aggressive, integrated care. Our experts include board-certified, fellowship-trained pediatric epileptologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons and advance practice epilepsy nurses who work closely with a coordinated team of pediatricians with advanced training in every pediatric subspecialty, including:
- Neuropsychology and psychiatry
- Developmental and behavioral medicine
- Child Life
Our teams also work closely with specialists at the acclaimed Neurological Institute Epilepsy Center at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center.
And, families have access to a pediatric epilepsy coordinator, who helps with physician referrals and appointments and provides one-on-one education to families, nurses and schools, and child life specialists, who explain all procedures to families and children in order to reduce stress.
A Full Spectrum of Treatment Options
In many cases it is possible to stop seizures or significantly reduce their frequency through a variety of advanced medical and surgical therapies, in some cases well before they are widely available. For example, UH Rainbow now offers a new, innovative medical therapy for infantile spasms, which typically affect a baby in the first months of life. The treatment can often cure this disorder if it is given within a certain window of time.
The treatments we recommend will be determined by the type of seizure with which your child has been diagnosed. Some of the advanced treatments options available at the Pediatric Epilepsy Center include:
- Anti-Seizure Medications
What types of anti-seizure medications are there?
- Medications Directed at Certain Types of Seizures: There are many kinds of anti-seizure medications, just as there are many types of seizures. Most of the newer medications are expected to help with several different kinds of seizures. Other medications are especially helpful for a particular type of epilepsy, when compared to others. Your doctor can explain how each of them helps to prevent seizures.
- Medications Directed at Certain Types of Chemicals in the Brain: Medications prevent seizures by changing the activity of different cells and the chemicals they produce in the brain. This can be done by either allowing or stopping different parts of their function. In doing so, the medications may block the process that usually causes a seizure to take place.
- Medications Used for Rescue: These medications are only given as a one-time dosage in a seizure emergency. Seizure emergencies are prolonged seizures or clusters of seizures.
- Medications Used as Daily Treatment: To prevent seizures from happening, these medications need to be taken every day to keep a steady amount of medication in your blood at all times.
- Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet is a treatment choice available for children who continue to have seizures, even though they take medication. The diet is based on the way that fat affects the activity of the brain. With the ketogenic diet, the recommended amount of calories per day for the child is the same, but the source of these calories is carefully and exactly measured: 90 percent fat, 5 percent carbohydrates and 5 percent protein.
Participation requires careful evaluation by the pediatric epilepsy team and nutrition specialists. Working together, they create meal plans geared to each child’s likes and dislikes, and provide follow-up care and laboratory test supervision. To be effective, guidelines must be strictly observed; therefore, families must be very committed while their child is on the diet.
To learn more about the Ketogenic Diet visit our patient education page.
- Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS)
The vagus nerve stimulator is a small battery-powered device, similar to a pacemaker, which is surgically placed in the upper left chest wall and attached to the left vagus nerve via two electrodes (thin wires). Once in place, the device sends electrical signals to the vagus nerve in a pattern that is selected by the patient’s epilepsy doctor and activated through a special hand-held computer. Depending on its usage, batteries must be replaced every three to five years. Current studies show that the VNS may decrease seizures by up to 50 percent in about half of patients using this therapy. VNS has also shown to be safe for patients 12 years of age and older who have partial seizures but do not respond to medication and are not candidates for epilepsy surgery. No serious side effects from VNS have been reported. Parents are encouraged to speak with their child’s epileptologist about the risks, side effects and benefits of VNS.
If medication and other conservative therapies cannot control seizures, we focus on early identification of children who will do well with surgery, which can often be performed using minimally invasive techniques.
Epilepsy surgery involves the safe removal of the part of the brain which is thought to be causing seizures. Although finding this area can be challenging and requires a lot of testing, the knowledge and skill of our world-renowned epilepsy doctors, combined with science and technology, allow them to effectively evaluate each patient and come up with an individualized surgical plan. In recent years, epilepsy surgery has become a very safe and effective treatment method for some pediatric patients in whom the medications do not work. A wide array of advanced surgical options means that our experts can find the therapy best suited to each individual patient with a focus on reducing complications and speeding healing time.
At the Pediatric Epilepsy Center, many experts come together to ensure successful surgical outcomes for our patients. Our multidisciplinary surgical team consists of:
- Pediatric epileptologists (physicians who specialize in epilepsy)
- Pediatric neuropsychologists
- Pediatric neurologists
- Pediatric epilepsy neurosurgeons
- Electroencephalography (EEG) technicians
- Advanced practice epilepsy nurses
- Pediatric anesthesiologists
- Pediatric intensive care physicians
- Pediatric pharmacists
- Social workers
- Child life therapists
- Clinical Trials
The physician scientists at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s are involved in ongoing research to find new and better ways to treat epilepsy. Therefore, some patients may be offered the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial as part of their total treatment plan.
Support for Families Dealing with Epilepsy
An epilepsy diagnosis and all the test and procedures that go with it can be overwhelming to families, so it is important for them to know that they are not alone.
The Pediatric Epilepsy Support Group gives families the opportunity to connect with others who are facing the same difficulties, share their stories and get advice. This network of support can help children and their families face the struggles of epilepsy with strength and hope. Meetings of the support group are held regularly at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and are coordinately by our pediatric epilepsy staff.
Your child’s health is important. Don’t delay care.
To schedule an appointment with a UH Rainbow pediatric epileptologist, call 216-286-6644.