The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

August 1, 2013

Hospital upgrades epilepsy unit

JOHNSTOWN — A three-bed addition and new technology will enable more epilepsy patients to receive life-changing surgery at Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown.

The epilepsy monitoring unit upgrade will be celebrated with an official opening and epilepsy education program beginning at 11 a.m. today in the hospital atrium area at the Franklin Street campus.

Neurosurgeon Dr. Alfred P. Bowles will be the featured speaker. He is director of the John P. Murtha Neuroscience and Pain Institute and director and chairman of neuroscience and neurosurgery for Conemaugh Health System.

“Although many cases of epilepsy can be managed with medication, 20 to 30 percent of patients with epilepsy require surgery to resect the area of the brain responsible for the misfiring,” Bowles said.

Every year, 180,000 Americans are diagnosed with epilepsy, defined as a disease of the central nervous system that causes misfiring of electrical signals in the brain. The misfiring triggers seizures of varying severity, which, in rare cases, can lead to brain trauma or sudden death.

Effective treatment requires identifying the cause of the misfiring and location in the brain, but it is not a simple diagnosis, Bowles said.

“Individuals who receive this procedure report large declines in seizure frequency and improved quality of life,” Bowles said. “Candidates for surgery are difficult to select without the aid of an epilepsy monitoring unit. The EMU allows physicians and surgeons to pinpoint the location, severity and frequency of seizures in order to select an area of the brain to remove.”

Memorial’s epilepsy monitoring unit includes three beds for extended stay with constant monitoring by computer-assisted electroencephalogram, along with an audio-video feed.

Typically, it takes the epilepsy team three to five days to evaluate the seizure activity, the hospital said in a press release.  Family members are welcome to remain with the patient in the unit.

 

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