When it comes to setting goals for people with epilepsy, David Ficker, MD, is a perfectionist.
"Even one seizure is too many," said Ficker, associate professor of neurology at the University of Cincinnati and associate director of the Cincinnati Epilepsy Center at the Neuroscience Institute. "Our motto is that we want our patients to have no seizures and no side effects."
That message will be affirmed at "Success with Your Epilepsy II," an educational symposium for patients, families, and caregivers, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. March 24 at the Cincinnati Museum Center. The free, half-day symposium will explore the latest treatments and strategies for living successfully with epilepsy, a neurological disorder characterized by recurrent seizures. The symposium will feature Ficker and other experts from the Neuroscience Institute at the University of Cincinnati and University Hospital, including Michael Privitera, MD, director of the Cincinnati Epilepsy Center.
A seizure is an electrical disruption in the brain. During a seizure an individual can experience a period of confusion, a loss of memory or a prolonged period of shaking.
Many primary care physicians and neurologists who do not specialize in epilepsy view one or two seizures a year as acceptable, Ficker said.
But even a single seizure can cause grave harm if the person is driving or caught in another precarious situation when the seizure occurs.
"The general neurology community is sometimes complacent, thinking that having a few seizures is OK," Ficker said. "But itís clear from our studies that itís not OK."
A "breakthrough seizure," which occurs after a long period without seizures, "is a serious change and requires a change of therapy," Ficker said.
Recent research at the Neuroscience Institute underscores the importance of getting prompt treatment for epilepsy. "We have found that newly diagnosed patients who are seizure free have a higher quality of life and less anxiety than patients who continue to have seizures," Ficker said.
People with uncontrolled seizures also suffer greater rates of depression.
The Success with Your Epilepsy II symposium will cover topics relating to the causes of epilepsy, medical and surgical treatments, new medications in development, safety, wellness and community resources.
The program will include lunch and a patient-physician panel discussion.
"Itís an opportunity for patients and family members to learn about whatís new in epilepsy and to interact with health care providers who specialize in the treatment of people with epilepsy," Ficker said.
Patients, families, or caregivers wishing reservation information for the March 24 symposium can contact Christa Meyer at (513) 569-5251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Approximately 2.3 million Americans suffer from epilepsy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and between 400,000 and 600,000 people have seizures that are not controlled by anti-epileptic medications.
The Neuroscience Institute, a regional center of excellence at the University of Cincinnati and University Hospital, is dedicated to patient care, research, education, and the development of new treatments for stroke, brain and spinal tumors, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, trauma, Alzheimerís disease and Parkinsonís disease.
The Cincinnati Epilepsy Center is one of the few specialized diagnosis and treatment programs in the United States. It provides access to the best available treatment and the newest clinical trials to the estimated 8,000 people in Greater Cincinnati with epilepsy. Between 200 and 225 patients undergo epilepsy monitoring at the Cincinnati Epilepsy Center each year, and up to 40 undergo neurosurgery.
The center includes a New Onset Seizure Clinic, which serves newly diagnosed patients and their families. During a one-hour appointment at the clinic, patients receive a thorough evaluation by a health care provider who is experienced with epilepsy. They also receive counseling.
Anyone wishing to make an appointment at the New Onset Seizure Clinic can call (513) 475-8730.