Epilepsy is the medical name for seizure disorders. This is the most common serious medical disorder treated by neurologists. 80% of the cases are idiopathic – which means the cause is unknown. These individuals are otherwise normal but periodically experience seizures.
Who does epilepsy typically affect?
The onset of idiopathic epilepsy is usually noted in childhood (8-12 yrs), but can also occur in young adults. This is most likely due to a small area of the brain that does not develop normally. 20% of the patients diagnosed with this disorder have suffered from cerebral palsy or other anoxic brain injuries at birth. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a less common reason for seizures. Cancer in adults and the elderly may also cause a seizure.
What are the most common symptoms of epilepsy?
The type of seizure and what part of the body is primarily affected depends upon the location of the seizure focus in the brain – area of the brain where the seizure originates. Grand mal seizures with a loss of consciousness and bladder and bowel function are the most dramatic. If the seizure occurs when the individual is driving an automobile it can be life-threatening.
What are the traditional treatments for epilepsy?
Many drugs are available to treat epilepsy. They function primarily by suppressing the activity of the nerve cells in the seizure focus. All have various side effects which may be significant.
Why is epilepsy amenable to oxygen therapy?
The seizure focus may be identified with Magnetic Source Imaging (MSI). On SPECT scan there is reduced blood flow to the area. PET scanning clearly demonstrates a reduced metabolic rate in the same area. Neurologists agree that the seizure focus is hypoxic (low oxygen). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) grows new blood vessels (angiogenesis) into the seizure focus thereby treating the basic underlying problem.
What benefits can I expect from oxygen therapy for epilepsy?
Since every patient is different it is hard to predict the result in each individual case. A large number of cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injured patients – many of whom have seizures – have seen improvement or complete eradication of their seizures with HBOT. We know from 50 years of experience that HBOT is safe and will not make the patient worse. The usual oxygen therapy is once daily, five days a week (M-F) for eight weeks. If a significant response is noted after 40 HBOT additional treatments may be helpful.
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