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Ask The Experts

Answers to your questions provided by expert clinicians

Hilary Murphy, PhD

Neuropsychologist | Director of Training and Graduate Education

How is a neuropsychologist important to an epilepsy patient?

Individuals with epilepsy may experience weaknesses or difficulties in learning, mood, attention and behavior that can interfere with functioning in everyday life. A neuropsychologist can help to understand how a person learns and sees the world. This information can be used to develop recommendations to support an individual’s ability to reach their goals and be successful.

How does the interdisciplinary model of NeurAbilities benefit a patient with epilepsy?

Due to the unique needs of individuals with epilepsy, it is not unusual for an individual to require care from multiple specialties. For the pediatric patient, especially, it is important that neurology and neuropsychology experts work collaboratively. At NeurAbilities, patients are able to benefit from a collaborative approach, allowing multiple professionals involved in a child’s care to communicate directly and provide coordinated care.

How do I explain neuropsychological testing to my child?

Generally, the best way to describe the evaluation process is to tell children that they will be meeting with a doctor who will want to get to know them. I like to describe the testing process as my opportunity to understand how a child learns and sees the world. For many children, it can be helpful to avoid the word “test” and describe the process as “activities.” It can also be a good idea to plan something fun for you and your child to do at the end of the appointment (e.g., going out to lunch) to give them a reward for their hard work.

What can I expect from neuropsychological testing?

Generally, we meet with children and their families for two appointments lasting about three hours each. On the first day of the assessment, we meet with the child and parents together to introduce ourselves, explain the testing process, and answer any questions. We also use this time to gather information about what areas may be of concern to best understand how to tailor the assessment to the needs of the individual.

What can I learn from the results of neuropsychological testing?

Neuropsychological assessment can provide a detailed overview of an individual’s unique strengths and weaknesses. This can include an understanding of an individual’s language, verbal and nonverbal reasoning, fine motor skills, attention, executive functioning skills, memory, academic abilities, emotional regulation, and social skills. This information can be used to identify the supports a child requires at home and in school.

Takijah Heard, MD

Pediatric Neurologist and Epileptologist

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological (brain) disorder of abnormal brain activity characterized by a predisposition for recurrent seizures. Seizure symptoms can vary widely, including convulsions, periods of unusual behavior, unusual sensations or perceptions, impaired or loss of motor control, involuntary movements, and/or loss of awareness or consciousness. There are many neurobiological, cognitive, psychological, and social consequences of epilepsy. Not all seizures are epileptic.

How does a neurologist evaluate if I have epilepsy?

A neurology evaluation is an important first step in understanding if you have epilepsy. At an initial visit, there will be an exploration about the details and circumstances of any symptoms that are concerning for seizures, as well as obtaining a complete and comprehensive medical, neurological, neurodevelopmental, neuropsychiatric, and family history, accompanied by a physical and neurological examination. From this information, further neurodiagnostic testing may be recommended, including high-density electroencephalography (HD-EEG, a brain wave test), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI, providing details of brain anatomy), genetic testing (assessing for genetic variants or mutations causing or contributing to epilepsy), laboratory testing, neuropsychological evaluation, and other potential tests or evaluations.

What kinds of treatments are used for treating epilepsy?

The first step is to determine, identify, and treat an underlying biological or other cause for seizures. To control seizures, there are a wide array of pharmacological options (medications), as well as non-pharmacological treatments, such as supplements, specialized diets, and in certain cases, brain stimulators and surgeries.

Why is HD-EEG an important component of diagnosis and treatment?

Neurons (brain cells) are the source of normal and abnormal electrical brain activity. HD-EEG is able to record neuronal activity in real time, and non-invasively. Such an “electrical image” of the brain is useful for identifying and localizing abnormal brain activity that has the potential to generate epileptic seizures, and assists in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy. HD-EEG recording sessions also involve video recording of the patient for real time matching of brain activity with movement.

Kim Catterall, R-EEG-T

HD-EEG Technologist

What can I expect from my HD-EEG Visit?
There may be 128 sensors to apply but getting ready for the HD-EEG is a quick and painless process, which helps to reduce anxiety. There is no sedation required, no abrasion of the scalp, and no gluing like there is with conventional EEGs. The entire sensor array is a one piece net that slips over the head. The quick application time allows for longer recording sessions and better data collection.
How do I explain to my child what will happen during an HD-EEG visit?
Our HD-EEG technicians have specialized training and experience, and will create a comfortable, soothing experience without the need for sedation. Comfortable chairs, video games and watching television are ways we work to ensure you or your child is occupied. Also, a parent will be present to support the child. If necessary, we have behavior therapists who can assist HD-EEG technicians to help patients in need.

Education Center

A collection of videos and blog posts on related topics
5 Questions Answered: Genetic Testing

5 Questions Answered: Genetic Testing

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All About HD-EEG Technology

All About HD-EEG Technology

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