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Approximately 1 in 26 people in the United States will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime, which is why UF Health is proud to offer you exemplary and patient-centric care for this condition that impacts the nervous system in both adults and children. Our larger vision is to lead the state of Florida in providing top-tier comprehensive epilepsy care backed by the best technology.

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder. Those with epilepsy have recurring seizures. These seizures, bursts of electrical activity are often uncontrollable and show up suddenly. Over time, repeated seizures can lead to changes in brain structure and function, which can further exacerbate the condition. Epilepsy can affect people of all ages, and can unfortunately have a large impact on their quality of life.

Why choose the UF Health Comprehensive Epilepsy Center?

There are many reasons to trust UF Health to treat your epilepsy. The UF Health Shands Hospital Comprehensive Epilepsy Program is proudly acknowledged by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC) as a Level 4 program, the highest distinction possible that recognizes specialized epilepsy centers. Centers with this distinction provide:

  • More complex forms of intensive neurodiagnostic monitoring
  • Extensive medical, neuropsychological and psychosocial treatment.
  • Offer a complete evaluation for epilepsy surgery. This includes intracranial electrodes and a broad range of surgical procedures for epilepsy.

Our adult epilepsy team has earned this reputation through a multidisciplinary team of expert physicians and health care providers that deliver innovative care to you or a loved one suffering from epilepsy.

UF Health offers you traditional epilepsy treatments, such as antiseizure drugs and brain surgery. You also have access to advanced forms of epilepsy treatment that are hard to find elsewhere. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Epilepsy ketogenic diet clinic. UF Health has the state's only epilepsy ketogenic diet clinic for adults.
  • Neuromodulation treatments. Methods of controlling seizures that use an implanted device to help prevent seizures before they begin.

We also offer the most advanced epilepsy diagnostic options available. One option is magnetoencephalography, or MEG scans at our new state-of-the-art neuroimaging suite.

However, as much as our epilepsy program prides itself in innovative treatemtents, the same devotion is placed in delivering care that is both compassionate and patient-centered. The program shows this blend of heart and expertise every day, and the story below is a great example.

NAEC logo

What causes epilepsy?

Epilepsy doesn’t have one main cause. There are a number of causes that may include developmental disorders, brain injury, genetic mutations and infections. Determining the exact cause for individual patients is often difficult as more than one factor can lead to an epilepsy diagnosis.

How do you test for epilepsy?

Diagnosing epilepsy may involve, a thorough medical history, neurological exam and diagnostic tests including electroencephalogram, or EEG, and brain imaging studies such as a magnetoencephalography scan, or MEG scan, that can help find exact areas of brain activity that indicate epilepsy. This is done through sensors that show images of magnetic fields in the brain.

These tests help our physicians identify the location and type of seizures, as well as any underlying structural issues or other conditions that may be causing the seizures.

Can a brain scan show epilepsy?

Yes, a brain scan can show signs of epilepsy. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans can show structural issues in the brain that may be causing seizures. Additionally, an electroencephalogram (EEG) can be used to measure the electrical activity in the brain and detect unusual patterns that are associated with epilepsy.

“My mom was so supportive. She was there for every hospital stay. We just have a really close relationship. She’s my best friend.”

Brooklyn Nelson's story More patient stories
Brooklyn Nelson smiling at camera

What are the types of epilepsy?

There are many types of epilepsy that a patient may be diagnosed with depending on the results of their diagnostic exams. These include:

  • Cryptogenic Epilepsy: This type of epilepsy has an unknown cause, but there is evidence of underlying structural issues in the brain.
  • Focal Epilepsy: This type of epilepsy starts in a specific area of the brain and can affect only one side of the body.
  • Generalized Epilepsy: This type of epilepsy affects the whole brain and can cause loss of consciousness and convulsions.
  • Idiopathic Epilepsy: This type of epilepsy has no known cause or medical condition, and it often runs in families.
  • Symptomatic Epilepsy: This type of epilepsy is caused by an underlying medical condition, such as a brain injury, tumor, or infection.

What are treatment options for epilepsy?

Treatment for epilepsy usually involves medications to help control seizures. In some cases, surgical treatment may be the right option to remove the area of the brain where the seizures are originating. In addition to medical treatment, lifestyle changes such as stress reduction, good sleep hygiene and avoiding your seizure triggers can also be helpful in managing seizures.

The UF Health Comprehensive Epilepsy Program has a multidisciplinary team of expert physicians and health care providers that deliver innovative care for our epilepsy patients. While UF Health offers patients the traditional methods of treating epilepsy that involve antiseizure drugs and brain surgery, you also have access to advanced forms of epilepsy treatment that are hard to find elsewhere. These include neuromodulation, laser ablation therapy and other complementary therapies.

What are the symptoms of epilepsy?

The primary symptom of epilepsy is seizures, of which there are many types.The frequency and severity of seizures can be very different from person to person.

What are the different types of epileptic seizures?

Generalized seizures, which affect both sides of the brain, include:

  • Absence seizures, also known as a petit mal seizure: This type of seizure is characterized by brief episodes of staring or blanking out.
  • Tonic-clonic seizures, formerly known as grand mal seizures: This type of seizure is the most well-known type and is characterized by loss of consciousness and convulsions.
  • Myoclonic seizures: This type of seizure causes sudden, brief muscle jerks or twitches.
  • Atonic seizures, sometimes called drop attack seizures: This type of seizure causes a sudden loss of muscle tone, which can cause a person to fall.

In addition to generalized seizures, there are also focal seizures, sometimes called a partial seizure. This type of seizure starts in a specific area of the brain and can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on the location of the seizure. A focal seizure can eventually become a generalized seizure as it progresses.

Adult and pediatric epilepsy team

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Community and Patient Programs: Epilepsy

Our community and patient programs provide great value to patients, families and loved ones. People can find support, educational materials, expert consultants and more. In most instances, these programs are offered free of charge.

  • Camp Boggy Creek

    Children with serious illnesses can enjoy a camp experience in a safe, medically sound environment.

News and Patient Stories: Epilepsy

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