Philadelphia Hospitals: Epilepsy

No other hospital in Philadelphia comes close to the volume of epilepsy surgery performed at the Jefferson Comprehensive Epilepsy Center under the supervision of Michael Sperling, who has an international reputation for expertise in hard-to-treat cases. It was here that two breakthrough techniques were developed: placement of electrodes in and around the brain to map seizure activity, and a drug treatment for uncontrolled inherited general epilepsy. Researchers are currently exploring not only new drugs, but a way to implant a computer chip in the brain to detect an oncoming seizure and deliver an electric current to block it. In addition to innovative surgery, this center provides genetic counseling for epileptics and help for women with epilepsy in managing their pregnancies. The fellowship program has applicants from all over the world (900 Walnut Street, Suite 200, 800-533-3669, jeffersonhospital.org/neuroscience).

The Penn Epilepsy Center conducts comprehensive evaluations of people who’ve had one or more seizures; an unusual event that might have been a seizure; longstanding, difficult to control seizures; and unacceptable side effects of treatment. Tools include a four-bed unit with video monitors that capture electrical activity in the brain, SPECT and PET imaging to pinpoint the sites in the brain where seizures originate, and multi-channel EEGs to differentiate between epileptic and non-epileptic seizures. This center offers more investigational drug trials than any other, and has a staff of neuropsychologists to assess the cognitive and emotional symptoms associated with epilepsy as well as behavioral therapies to cope with them. Gordon Baltuch is one of the few surgeons in the country performing deep brain stimulation therapy, which stimulates targeted regions of the brain to suppress or prevent attacks (3400 Spruce Street, 800-789-PENN, pennhealth.com/neuro/services/epilepsy).

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