The Epilepsy Center at Johns Hopkins offers individually tailored treatment plans for all people with epilepsy, even those with the most challenging seizure disorders. Patients can benefit from treatments informed by recent research, including technologically advanced surgical options for seizures that do not respond to medication or diet.
Epilepsy Treatment: Why Choose Johns Hopkins
- The large number of patients we treat gives us unparalleled expertise in assessing and treating the full spectrum of epilepsy and seizure disorders.
- Johns Hopkins offers a First Seizure Clinic and a well-equipped Epilepsy Monitoring Unit to help diagnose seizures and epilepsy.
- Our team tailors each patient’s treatment plan with access to the most advanced medical, dietary and surgical therapies available.
- If you and your doctor decide that epilepsy surgery is right for you, we offer the most modern approaches, including laser interstitial thermal therapy (LiTT).
Understanding Your Seizure
What is a seizure?
Your brain comprises billions of neurons – nerve cells that process and transmit information by interacting with each other. These interactions can be observed and assessed through an electroencephalogram (EEG).
Most neuron interactions occur with few disruptions. Occasionally, small neuron misfires may occur with little consequences. Yet sometimes multiple cells misfire at the same time – depending on the severity and location in the brain. This is a seizure: a sudden, disorganized electrical discharge in the brain causing muscle twitches and spasms, changes in sensation, mood, behavior or thought, or altered consciousness.
Epilepsy vs Seizures
A seizure is a single occurrence, whereas epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by two or more unprovoked seizures.
Types of Seizures
There are many different types of seizures, including:
- Focal seizures and focal epilepsy
- Myoclonic seizures
- Tonic and clonic seizures
- Tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizures
- Epilepsy syndromes in children, including benign Rolandic epilepsy
Epilepsy Assessment and Diagnosis
There are several different types of epilepsy, characterized by seizures, with symptoms causing changes in awareness, muscle tone, emotions, behavior and sensory experience. Proper treatment starts with a careful assessment of the person’s seizures, which may include:
- Medical and seizure history and neurological examination
- Neuroimaging: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), positron emission tomography (PET), functional MRI (fMRI)
- Electroencephalogram (EEG), including outpatient video-EEG monitoring and long-term video-EEG monitoring
- Wada testing
- Neuropsychological, speech and hearing evaluations
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Counseling and support services for patients and caregivers
Learn more about diagnosis of epilepsy.
Epilepsy Treatment: What to Expect
There is more than one way to treat seizures or epilepsy. Based on your diagnosis, your doctor will discuss which therapies are likely to be most effective. These include:
Our doctors will work with you to find the most appropriate antiseizure medication for your symptoms, and calculate and adjust the dose to help bring your seizures under control.
The brain is a very complex organ and everyone responds to medications differently, so it may take several tries to determine the most appropriate medication and dosage.
Diet Therapy for Epilepsy, Including Ketogenic Diet
High fat, very low-carbohydrate diets, when calibrated and administered by a doctor and followed precisely, can help ease recurrent seizures in some cases. Johns Hopkins offers diet therapy for epilepsy for both pediatric and adult patients, using the ketogenic diet and the modified Atkins diet.
Though some people may think of epilepsy surgery as a last resort, these procedures have advanced over the years to become alternatives to medications, especially when they fail to control the seizures or if the drugs’ side effects are too hard for the patient to tolerate.
NeurologistsGregory Bergey, M.D., neurologist, Director of the Epilepsy Center
Dana Boatman, Ph.D., neurologist, otolaryngologist
Mackenzie Carpenter Cervenka, M.D., neurologist, Director of the Adult Epilepsy Diet Center and the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU)
Nathan Crone, M.D., neurologist, Co-Director of the Epilepsy Fellowship Program
Emily Johnson, M.D., neurologist
Joon-Yi Kang, M.D., neurologist
Peter Kaplan, M.B.B.S., neurologist
Gregory Krauss, M.D., neurologist
Eva Ritzl, M.D., neurologist, anesthesiologist and critical care specialist, Director of Continuous EEG Monitoring and Interoperative Monitoring Services
Pediatric NeurologistsChrista Whelan Habela, M.D., Ph.D., pediatric neurologist
Sarah Aminoff Kelley, M.D., pediatric neurologist
Eric Heath Kossoff, M.D., pediatric neurologist, Medical Director, Ketogenic Diet Program
Carl E. Stafstrom, M.D., Ph.D., neurologist, pediatrician, Director of Pediatric Neurology and the Pediatric Epilepsy Center
Advanced PractionersSarah Doerrer, M.S., C.P.N.P., pediatric nurse pracititioner
Rebecca Fisher, R.N., B.S.N., C.N.R.N., nurse clinician and research coordinator
Allison Griffiths, R.N., A.S.N., nurse clinician and researcher
Laura Norton, C.R.N.P., nurse practitioner
Noelle Stewart, M.S.N., R.N., C.N.R.N.,epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) coordinator
NeurophysiologistChristophe Jouny, Ph.D., neurophysiologist
Treating Epilepsy with a Laser Focus
Epileptologist Joon Kang and neurosurgeon William Anderson are using laser interstitial thermal therapy, or LiTT, to treat epilepsy.