Epilepsy is a central nervous system disorder in which nerve cell activity in the brain becomes disrupted, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations and, sometimes, loss of consciousness. Seizure symptoms can vary widely. Some people with epilepsy simply stare blankly for a few seconds during a seizure, while others repeatedly twitch their arms or legs.
Medications are typically the first line of treatment for patients with epilepsy. In addition, our team has expertise in nonmedication management, including vagus nerve stimulator implantation and management.
Epilepsy can have a big impact on your life, but you are not alone. Our team is here to help you. Do not be afraid to ask questions or talk about concerns you have. We can help you live your life to the fullest.
Call 715-838-1900 with questions or to schedule an appointment.
Epilepsy Monitoring Unit
Our hospital includes a four-bed Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, which is specially designated to evaluate, diagnose and treat seizures.
During a stay, you have continuous video electroencephalogram (EEG), which measures vital signs and provides an audiovisual recording of activities. An EEG detects electrical activity in your brain using small, flat metal electrodes attached to the scalp.
An EMU stay can provide your care team with critical information for the classification and evaluation of abnormal spells. It helps develop a treatment plan that works for you. It also provides a safe space to make changes to medications and for other health concerns, such as memory loss or cognitive impairments.
You are able to move freely around the room during your stay, which could last up to five days. Your neurologist will decide if an EMU stay is appropriate for you.
This instructional video from Mayo Clinic in Arizona outlines and introduces the general guidelines of an EMU stay. It pays special attention to safety procedures, activity limitations and various methods used to induce seizures (or events) throughout the patient's EMU admission. The information provided is applicable to your EMU stay in Eau Claire.
Vagus Nerve Stimulation
Medications are typically the first line of treatment for patients with epilepsy. However, vagus nerve stimulation may be helpful if you continue to struggle with breakthrough seizures. It has effectively treated seizures for approximately 20 years, especially in patients who have partial seizures. Studies found that patients experienced a significant reduction, up to 50 percent, in the frequency and intensity of seizures after vagus nerve stimulation.
You have one vagus nerve on each side of your body, running from your brainstem through your neck to your chest and abdomen. Vagus nerve stimulation is a system in which a device, similar to a pacemaker, is implanted in your chest wall by an ear, nose and throat (otorhinolaryngology) physician. Then, the device is connected to a wire that is wrapped around your left vagus nerve. The procedure uses a small incision, and most patients can go home the same day as the procedure.
After a short healing time, a neurologist turns on the device to a low setting during a clinic visit. Small electrical signals are sent to this nerve on a scheduled basis. The device can be programmed to deliver electric impulses at various times, frequencies and currents. Each week, the device is monitored and adjusted until you reach a peak tolerance or find seizure control.
Our Eau Claire team has experience with vagus nerve stimulation implantation and management.