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A seizure is caused by a brief, strong surge of extra electrical activity between the cells in the brain. This activity causes physical or behavioral changes, which range from intense full body shaking to mild staring and lip smacking.
Epilepsy is the name of the chronic medical condition in which a child has repeated seizures. It’s also called a seizure disorder. When a child has two or more seizures that are not the result of another medical condition, they are considered to have epilepsy. There are many types of epilepsy, ranging from benign to intense.
There are many causes of epilepsy, including:
The symptoms of a seizure depend on the location of electrical activity in the brain. Symptoms can vary in intensity and may be subtle (like staring into space) or intense (such as full body shaking).
During a generalized seizure, the surge of electrical activity affects the whole brain.
There are several types of generalized seizures in children, including:
Partial seizures in children are caused by excess electrical activity in just one part of the brain. The electrical activity may stay in one area or travel to other areas of the child’s brain.
Epilepsy is a medical condition that produces seizures in children. Epilepsy is defined as two or more seizures that cannot be traced to another brain event like a concussion or an extremely high fever. The two seizures are usually separated in time by 24 hours.
Our Neuroscience Institute has a variety of high-tech evaluations to test and diagnose epilepsy in kids. Tests include long-term video electroencephalogram (EEG) monitoring, intraoperative EEG monitoring, neuroimaging, brain mapping and in-depth neuropsychological testing.
We also have state-of-the-art equipment used for determining where the seizures start in the brain; this is often used to prepare children with difficult-to-treat epilepsy for epilepsy surgery. We offer a variety of imaging services and will work with you to determine the best testing for your child.
Usually, a child is diagnosed with epilepsy after two or more seizures separated by 24 hours that are not related to a high fever, concussion or other event.
We provide different types of treatment for epilepsy in children including traditional anticonvulsant medications, dietary therapies, access to ongoing drug studies, vagal nerve stimulation (an epilepsy therapy designed to prevent seizures by sending regular, mild pulses of electrical energy to the brain) and epilepsy surgery.
Most children with epilepsy are able to control their seizures with medications:
Rescue medications are sometimes given for the family to use at home for epileptic seizures that occurs despite the use of medication that has otherwise successfully prevented seizures in the patient previously. These medications can include midazolam nasal spray or a rectal suppository such as Diastat.
Watch this video for step-by-step directions on how to administer intranasal midazolam if it has been prescribed by your provider.
If surgery is needed, our Pediatric Surgical Epilepsy Program provides the only comprehensive treatment program for chronic seizure disorders in the region. Brain Lab® image-guidance surgery allows our neurosurgeons to perform complex brain operations with virtual visualization of the critical brain structures and the location of seizure onset.
Our pediatric neurosurgeons use state-of-the-art laser technology to target deep brain lesions through very small openings. Our surgeons also use robotics to precisely place electrodes that can localize a hard to find seizure onset zone.
Our epilepsy surgery team also has pediatric experts from various specialties to help care for every part of a child's brain before, during and after surgery. Watch as our team explains how this makes a difference for patients.
Experts at our Pediatric Epilepsy Program provide comprehensive care for babies, kids and young adults who suffer from seizures and epilepsy. Our patients range from children who have just experienced their first seizure, to those suffering from chronic and debilitating epilepsy.
We offer state-of-the-art treatment and evaluation by a multidisciplinary team consisting of neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, social workers, nurses, dieticians and epileptologists (doctors who specialize in the treatment of epilepsy) who are all trained in pediatric epilepsy. We're also closely affiliated with local organizations and epilepsy resources to meet the needs of our patients.
In addition, Children's Colorado is located on the Anschutz Medical Campus, a major medical campus that provides access to comprehensive, high-quality care for pediatric patients, as well as education and research efforts in epilepsy.
For more information about the Pediatric Epilepsy Program at Children's Hospital Colorado, please contact us at 720-777-6895.
Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
Neurology - Pediatric
Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner