Epilepsy and Seizure Disorder Program

Complete and comprehensive treatment for epilepsy and seizure disorders

A team led by a board-certified epileptologist provides diagnosis and treatment including continuous monitoring at local inpatient units

Seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain that may result in unusual movement or behaviors. Not everyone who has seizures has epilepsy. Epilepsy is a group of related disorders that are characterized by the tendency to have recurring seizures. It is one of the more common disorders of the nervous system that affects people of all ages, races and ethnicities.

Our team is dedicated to providing an accurate diagnosis and treatment to help adults with epilepsy and seizure disorder lead a normal lives. The program operates under the guidance of our board-certified, subspecialty trained epileptologist.

Our Epilepsy Monitoring Units evaluate, diagnose and treat seizures

The Epilepsy and Seizure Disorder Program includes two Epilepsy Monitoring Units (EMUs). These are specialized inpatient units located at Vassar Brothers Medical Center and Northern Dutchess Hospital.

The EMU is a monitored clinical environment under the supervision of a neurologist and specially trained staff, where patients are continuously monitored with an electroencephalogram (EEG) to evaluate the brain’s electrical activity in real time.

Our neuroscience team works together to provide an accurate diagnosis of seizure disorders and offers ongoing treatment. Your physician may suggest an EMU evaluation if you fall into one of several groups:

  • If you have seizure-like spells that occur but have not been witnessed by a physician or captured during a routine outpatient EEG, an EMU stay will provide comprehensive monitoring with longer assessment times.
  • If you have been diagnosed with epilepsy but are struggling with medications or their side effects, a stay in the EMU offers a way to safely manage medication levels.
  • If you have a known seizure disorder but have developed new episodes that need to be correctly characterized.
  • If you have epilepsy and are responding to the current treatment.

When the evaluation is complete, the EMU neurologist collaborates with your primary care physician. Together, they will provide appropriate, individualized treatment plan

Conditions We Treat

  • Generalized tonic-clonic seizures
  • Absent seizures, formerly known as petit mal seizures
  • Partialized seizures
  • Complex partial seizures
  • Focal seizures
  • Temporal lobe seizures
  • Parietal lobe seizures
  • Frontal lobe seizures
  • Catamenial epilepsy (CE) seizures associated with the menstrual cycle

Testing and Treatments

Common tests performed include:

  • Blood tests including complete blood count (CBC), electrolytes, liver and renal function tests
  • Tomography (CT) scanning for evaluation of acute seizure
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for further evaluation or in non-emergent situations
  • Electroencephalograms (EEG) while preferably waking and sleeping

When seizures are difficult to diagnose or control, continuous video-EEG monitoring can be utilized at an inpatient Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) like those at Vassar Brothers Medical Center and Northern Dutchess Hospital.

Treatment options include diet and behavior modification, pharmaceutical agents, vagal nerve stimulators and surgery.

Seizure medications
Seizure medications, or anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs), are commonly used to treat seizures and epilepsy, and have been shown to effectively control seizures in 60% to 70% of patients. For the remaining patients, AEDs can be used in combination with other treatments like specialized diet, behavior modification therapy, devices such as a vagal nerve stimulator or surgery.