Your mind, in a whole new light.
Epilepsy affects 1.5-2.3 million people in the U.S. and 50 million people worldwide. After the first seizure of life, risk of seizure recurrence in the following 2 years ranges from 25-70%. Risk factors for recurrence include abnormal EEG, abnormal neurologic exam or a symptomatic cause, yet even without clear risk factors up to 40% have recurrence within 5 years. Most epileptic patients experience many different trials Antiepileptic Drugs (AED) to help control their seizures, however, virtually all AEDs are associated with systemic and cognitive adverse effects and many patients do not achieve seizure freedom despite several medication trials. Seizure recurrence and intractability are a cause of significant morbidity and mortality in patients with epilepsy, as well as a source of significant individual and societal costs.
Dr. Luigi Maccotta M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neurology at Washington University, School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, is working on trying to find a way of making early intervention in those with a first time seizure, as well as help to identify patterns of brain functional reorganization in early epilepsy (and ideally pre-clinical epilepsy) that predict future disease severity and can be used by physicians to guide early intervention and more aggressive therapy.
Dr. Maccotta also is working on finding a way for epilepsy patients to overcome memory deficits, since memory is one of the most adversely affected cognitive functions in epilepsy and the most reported by patients. Memory complaints rank highest in terms of factors that adversely affect epilepsy patients’ quality of life (Hall et al., 2009), and are seen across a spectrum, from patients with good seizure control, to intractable epilepsy and after epilepsy surgery.