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Johns Hopkins Health - 5 Questions for Epilepsy Expert Nathan Crone

Fall 2016
Issue No. 34

5 Questions for Epilepsy Expert Nathan Crone

Date: October 4, 2016

Managing Epilepsy with New Technology

Nathan Crane

Epilepsy affects about 2.5 million Americans of all ages, races and ethnicities. We asked neurologist Nathan Crone, M.D., about this common nervous system disorder—and about how Johns Hopkins researchers are using the latest technologies to learn more.

1. What is epilepsy? It’s diagnosed when a person has had more than one unprovoked seizure and is at risk for another. A seizure occurs when abnormal electrical impulses disrupt normal brain function. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Not everyone has a convulsion and a loss of consciousness. Some may only experience an “abnormal feeling” with preserved awareness.

2. How does it affect the individual? For most people with epilepsy, the biggest impact is that they’re not allowed to drive until their seizures are under control. Other than that, they are usually able to continue their normal activities. In 70 percent of patients, medications will be effective at controlling seizures.

3. Do all seizures begin without warning? Many people with epilepsy experience a precursor sensation that warns them that a seizure may be coming. The most common triggers for seizures are missed medication, lack of sleep, alcohol, infection, stress and overexertion.

4. What is the EpiWatch? It’s a new tool (worn on the wrist and connected to an app) that we developed for an ongoing Johns Hopkins research study that aims to better understand epilepsy and hopefully improve treatment. EpiWatch allows people with epilepsy to track seizures, triggers, medications and side effects. We’re also using it to explore whether seizures can be detected via an app.

5. Is there a takeaway message people can put to use today? I’d say it’s that the management and treatment of epilepsy is becoming more customized. The aim is to address each person’s specific needs so they can go about their daily activities and live full, productive lives.


For more details about the Johns Hopkins EpiWatch App and Research Study, visit

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