Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Seizure Disorders/Epilepsy - Defined

The Neurology Channel has the best "overall" definition I have found for Epilepsy. Here is the overview:

Epilepsy is a recurrent seizure disorder caused by abnormal electrical discharges from brain cells, often in the cerebral cortex. It is not a distinct disease, it is a group of disorders for which recurrent seizures are the main symptom. Different forms of epilepsy are either secondary to a particular brain abnormality or neurological disorder, or are said to be "idiopathic," without any clear cause.

Normally, nerve transmission in the brain occurs in an orderly way, allowing a smooth flow of electrical activity. A seizure occurs when these neurons generate uncoordinated electrical discharges that spread throughout the brain. This can occur with both normal and abnormal nerve cells.

This is where the fun starts... so how do doctors & chemists "fix" the problem. The drug approach is to "mess up" the chemistry of your brain further in order to hopfully make the electrical discharges behave. The VNS approach is to blast your brain with more electricty and hope it makes the uncoordinated electricity calm down or at least get your head used to it. The brain surgery method where they chop the link between the two sides of the cerebral cortex... well, that seems just crazy, but for some people, evidently it helps.

Luckily, there are still a lot of doctors with crazy ideas about putting wires in your head or zapping your brain with radio frequencys... more to come.

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