March 30, 2018

Focus on Epilepsy in Older Adults

Rush University Medical Center issued the following news release on March 29:

Diagnosing and treating epilepsy in adults age 65 and older can be complex, and it may take time to find the right treatment. Rush has launched the first comprehensive epilepsy clinic in Chicago dedicated to treating epilepsy in older adults, serving a population that is often not optimally treated.

“Because epilepsy symptoms can be similar to dementia or heart arrhythmias, patients often are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. Epilepsy often presents differently in older adults and can be subtle,” said Dr. Rebecca O’Dwyer, a neurologist at Rush and assistant professor in the Department of Neurological Sciences at Rush Medical College.

“While epilepsy in older patients is difficult to detect and often is confused with other conditions, which also include stroke and traumatic brain injury, when identified it can usually be easily controlled.”

Currently, one in four newly diagnosed epilepsy patients is 65 or older, and it’s estimated that by 2020, about half of all people living with epilepsy will be 65 or older.

The clinic will offer the latest research, diagnostic and treatment options, include the following:

  • Individualized medication regimens, with access to clinical trials for emerging treatments
  • Access to caregiver support services and groups
  • Systematic cognitive testing
  • Electroencephalographic (EEG) video monitoring
  • Single photon emission computerized tomography (SPECT)
  • Computerized brain mapping
  • Neuromodulatory or surgical therapies
  • Participation in prospective clinical studies

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