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Epilepsy: What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy: What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological condition which produces seizures and affects a myriad of physical and mental functions. Typically, when an individual has two or more unprovoked seizures at one time or another, they are considered to have epilepsy. A seizure occurs when a strong surge of electrical activity affects all or part of the brain.
Epilepsy and Common Symptoms:
Partial Seizures: Occur in a specific part of the brain
- Simple Partial Seizures: Awareness or consciousness is not affected
- Complex Partial Seizures: The individual may be awake and unresponsive to stimuli or become unconscious
- Partial Seizures with Secondary Generalization: Starts in one area of the brain, but spreads to the rest of the brain creating a grand mal seizure.
Generalized Seizures: Occur over the entire brain
- Grand Mal Seizures: Full body convulsion
- Petit Mal Seizures: An individual may stare into space and then “wake up” and may be unaware of the occurrance
- Myoclonic Seizures: The body appears to jerk as though it is being shocked
- Atonic Seizures: A sudden loss of muscle tone causing a fall
- Tonic Seizures: A contraction and stiffening of the muscles causing the person to fall down
Epilepsy and Brain Function:
With the qEEG or Brain Map as an assessment tool, we can see the electrical activity of the brain. We can then determine where and how the dysregulation occurs allowing us to develop treatment protocols to put the brain back into balance without medication. The result is the reduction or elimination of symptoms in cases of Epilepsy.
A seizure is a massive disruption of electrical communication between neurons in the brain, leading to the temporary release of excessive energy in a synchronized form. Neurons communicate with each other by firing electrical impulses. These impulses travel from the neuron and then stimulate the release of neurotransmitters which flow across the the gap between the cells to the receiving cell.
In typical brain function, ff more excitatory transmitters than inhibitory transmitters are released, the cell will fire; if more inhibitory neurotransmitters are released, the cell will not fire. Since a large numbers of cells are involved in both simple and complex actions, the on/off action is what controls physical and mental functioning.
However, if there is a consistently higher level of the excitory neurotransmitters, or too few inhibitory ones, the likelihood of a seizure—an uncontrolled, continuing firing of neurons in the brain—is probable. Some of the newer medications relate directly to this process and are designed to increase the level of inhibitory neurotransmitters or to decrease the amount of the excitatory ones.
A sudden burst of neuronal firing may not be sufficient to cause an obvious seizure (although it might show up as a sudden spike on the EEG); however, if the discharge of electrical energy has sufficient power and affects enough neurons, it will produce symptoms characteristic of a seizure in the area in which the discharge took place. The result could be a sudden muscle jerk, an abrupt fall, or distorted vision. If the disturbance flashes across the whole brain at once, it could produce a convulsive seizure, temporarily disrupting many of the functions of the brain.
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Dr. Stephanie Golder, MA, ThD, Stephen Minister, Hemispheric Life Coach
Mindy Fritz, MS, LCDC, BCN Associate Fellow