Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Brain scan could stop epilepsy pre-surgery

WASHINGTON, May 18 (UPI) -- U.S. experts said a technology being developed for use in diagnosing brain issues could eliminate costly and invasive pre-surgery for epilepsy patients.

Susumu Sato, a physician and researcher with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke within the National Institutes of Health, said epilepsy patients often must undergo a pre-surgery procedure that involves removing a portion of the patient's skull and temporarily placing electrodes on the surface of the brain to detect areas involved in producing seizures. Doctors then determine whether those parts of the brain can be removed.

However, he and other experts told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that a scanning technology known as magnetoencephalography, or MEG, could eliminate those procedures by detecting the problem areas of the brain without surgeons cutting into the patient. Sato said MEG costs thousands less than the currently used preliminary surgeries, but is not currently covered by most insurance companies.

"It is very exciting technology," Sato said.

Experts said the technology, which is currently being used in several studies, could also be used to benefit patients with Alzheimer's, Tourette syndrome and other neurological issues.

source : www.upi.com/Science_News

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Being a full-time mother is one of the highest salaried jobs in my field, since the payment is pure love. ~Mildred B. Vermont


Wednesday, May 6, 2009


If you are trying to source and buy cheaper alternative or generic medication, please do not attempt to do so.

Owing to bad economic times, a lot of people could be trying to buy cost saving alternative or generic medication. I was at the hospital two months ago for my annual follow up. Waiting in a crowded room, I overheard some conversations between patients and caregivers.

"Oh my goodness! The cost of your medication has increased again. I won't ever buy from the hospital's pharmacy again. I will ask my friends to recommend me some good pharmacies where I can buy cheaper generic drugs for you. Don't worry. The generic drugs are just the same as the pricey branded drugs you are on now and better still, the cost is definitely cheaper than what I am paying now".

"Oh dear me! I can't afford to buy from the pharmacy in the hospital anymore. Do you know of any pharmacies outside the hospital where I can buy the same medication at a much lower price?"

There are a lot of generic drugs being sold in pharmacies. You will be tempted to buy cheaper generic medication. BEWARE. Consuming generic drugs may have grave consequences. The composition in the generic drugs may not be 100 per cent the same as in the drugs prescribed by your doctor. Generic drugs, instead of treating, controlling or improving your condition might do more harm to your condition and health, making it more difficult for your doctor to treat you. And because you know you had switched to less expensive generic drugs, you hide that fact from your doctor fearing that he might not take up your case anymore.

Even though, you may be able to buy cost saving original branded drugs from pharmacies outside the hospital, make sure that you check the orginality of the drug from the packing of the drug like name of manufacturer, where it is made in, the dosage of the drug and expiry date.

Inform your doctor on your next visit of the source of your drug purchase. If possible, bring along your drug to show it to him/her. Precaution is always the best action.

I am aware of the availability of cheaper generic drugs. I will save and thrift on other things but not when it comes to buying my medication. My epileptic condition and health should never be compromised.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Art helps lift the veil on epilepsy

May 2, 2009

Megan O'Keefe is one of 94 people taking part in  a Melbourne University study examining the influence of epilepsy on artistic expression.
Megan O'Keefe is one of 94 people taking part in a Melbourne University study examining the influence of epilepsy on artistic expression. Photo: JOE ARMAO

MEGAN O'Keefe doesn't like looking at her self-portrait much. She took the photograph of herself when she was experiencing symptoms of epilepsy as a teenager, which no one recognised as a medical problem or understood.

"I was 19 and I was not happy … A lot of people were saying I was vague. No one ever said it to my face but I read in school reports that I was a daydreamer and not paying attention," she explains. I now believe I was having absent seizures, which is basically staring off into space. It's like someone has put you on pause."

The subtle signs of epilepsy made Ms O'Keefe withdraw socially and feel misunderstood. She was doing well at school but people were making observations about her behind her back. By age 27, she was having tonic-clonic seizures — severe seizures, which usually involves someone falling to the ground and convulsing. Over the next five years, these events became more frequent, to the point where she was having up to four or five each week, plus other partial seizures as well.

The seizures were often violent. Ms O'Keefe, under attack from within, would unconsciously fight anyone who tried to pin her down. On one occasion, she grabbed someone's ankle on the ground and would not let go. During a different type of seizure, she once walked from her house and woke from a semi-conscious state in the middle of a four-lane freeway.

Ms O'Keefe underwent various tests to determine the cause of her seizures, but these were inconclusive. At 35, she was finally diagnosed as having epilepsy — a disorder of brain function that affects about 3 per cent of Australians. Throughout her journey, Ms O'Keefe has experienced a lot of stigma. People would often ask her what drugs she was using or if she was drunk when seizures came on. One shop owner once told her to get out of their store because she might repel customers.

"Seizures are so misunderstood, I can't believe people still don't know basic seizure first aid. It is still not a standard part of the first-aid courses people do," she says. As a result of the psychological damage she suffered through these experiences, Ms O'Keefe became a recluse and fearful of going out, especially alone. She changed from the bright, bubbly girl she used to be to someone who was anxious and depressed.

Art helped Ms O'Keefe cope with some of these problems and now, with her epilepsy well controlled by medication, she is one of 94 people taking part in a Melbourne University study that is examining the influence of epilepsy on artistic expression.

Researcher Jim Chambliss — a US lawyer who was surprised by a sudden creative streak after being diagnosed with epilepsy in his 30s — has reviewed more than 2000 artworks to see how the condition has an impact on art and how it could help diagnosis.

It has long been known that the production of artwork is a complex neurological process, but Mr Chambliss has discovered commonalities in the artwork produced by people with epilepsy. A lot of the artists used vibrant tertiary colours, which might show the visual pathway in the brain being hyper-stimulated, he said. There are also a lot of facial and spatial distortions in the artwork, which potentially reflects the visual illusions some people with epilepsy experience, he said.

Many of the artworks also depicted feelings associated with seizures, such as being pulled into something or falling. Mr Chambliss has also observed changes in people's artwork after they have been medicated, a clear example of the condition's impact.

While most people don't know the part of the brain or focal point that produces their seizures, Mr Chambliss hopes to isolate this for some of his subjects. This would help them understand their condition and the way it has an impact on their behaviour. It may also lead to better treatment. While everyone seems to experience epilepsy in a different way, Mr Chambliss said the artists participating in the study were excited to be part of something that might help others understand them.

"A lot of these artists want to be better understood. There can be two impacts of epilepsy, firstly the symptoms and then the public reaction. That is, how it impacts on someone's job, relationships, ability to travel, and so on. Often these can be more debilitating," he says, pointing out that having epilepsy will not always make you an artist, and vice versa.

Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria chief executive Graeme Spears, who is helping fund the research, said he hoped it would raise awareness of the condition and help with diagnosis.

"It's a very difficult condition to diagnose, so anything that can help that process is fantastic … It's also a completely different way of engaging people in discussion about epilepsy," he said.

Artworks from the study will be exhibited in the Daly Wing of St Vincent's Hospital from Thursday, 7th May 2009.

source : www.theage.com.au


"" I, too, desperately want more and more people to understand epilepsy better and to accept people like me as normal people who integrate well in every aspects of society. This will be a very interesting event for me to attend and also a golden opportunity to get to know others who are also epileptic. I will be very fascinated and taken in by the painting exhibits as I am someone who likes walking into art galleries. If I can, I wish to be part of the above study and survey too but unfortunately time is not right for me. I will miss this event which means very much to me "".

Friday, May 1, 2009

Prince reveals childhood epilepsy

Prince rarely gives interviews

Pop star Prince has revealed for the first time that he was "born epileptic" and how his parents struggled to cope with his seizures.

The 50-year-old gave a rare interview to US talk show host Tavis Smiley to promote his latest three-disc album.

"My mother and father didn't know what to do or how to handle it but they did the best they could with what little they had," he said.

The Purple Rain star also revealed he was "teased a lot" at school.

Strained relationship

He recalled how as a child he believed divine intervention had helped him overcome the illness.

"My mother told me one day I walked in to her and said, 'Mum, I'm not going to be sick anymore'.

"She said 'Why?' and I said 'Because an angel told me so.' Now, I don't remember saying it, that's just what she told me."

He also revealed that before the seizures stopped he tried to "compensate" for the illness by being "as noisy as I could and be as flashy as I could".

The musician has alluded to the condition before in 1992 album track The Sacrifice Of Victor, which contained the lyric: "Epileptic 'til the age of seven."

In the CD booklet, the word "true" was printed in mirror writing next to this line. About a third of childhood epilepsies disappear at adulthood, according to Epilepsy Action. During the interview the star also talked about his strained relationship with his father and how he was forced to keep his piano playing a secret from him.

"I wasn't allowed to play it when he was there because I wasn't as good as him. So when he left, I was determined to get as good as him."

source : news.bbc.co.uk

1st May 2009