Department of Neurology

Is there nothing else to be done?

Q: Yes, my grandmother has epilepsy. She was diagnosed at the age of 45. She has no known tumors, or has not had any brain trauma. She is on Dilantin and the doctor says that that is all he can do for her. The problem is that she keeps having the big seizures or "grand-mal seizures". The family is concerned because she recently fell during one of these seizures and had to have 10 stiches to her head. What is there to do about this? Thanks for taking the time to read this!

A: There is always more that can be done. First, you did not mention whether she has been on any other medications besides Dilantin. There are at least a half dozen other excellent seizure medications that should be tried. Even if she has been placed on some of them, they may not have been used optimally. In addition to commercially available medications, there are other treatment options, including new experimental seizure medications, the vagus nerve stimulator device and epilepsy surgery. Many of these therapies are described in detail in this Web Clinic.

When a person hears that there is "nothing else to be done" for their epilepsy, it is usually from someone with little expertise in epilepsy. If your grandmother is not seeing an epilepsy specialist, I would strongly suggest that she see one.

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