Hospital offers new way to monitor epilepsy patients
By BOB RUGGIERO
Cy-Fair area residents who suffer from epileptic seizures will no longer have to trek to the Medical Center for help, as North Cypress Medical Center has opened an epilepsy monitoring unit.
This is really a state-of-the-art facility, with the best technology available," said Dr. Balbir Singh, the unit's medical director. We can see direct evidence of seizure activity, and that will help us decide on the best treatment for each person."
Epilepsy is a medical condition that produces seizures when a brief, strong surge of electrical activity travels through the brain's neurons. They can last for a few seconds to a few minutes, and symptoms include blank staring, lip smacking and jerking movements of the arms and legs, Singh said.
And while Singh said there have been great advances in medication to help control or regulate seizures, they can still happen at any time.
The unit has two beds for visiting patients. Medical technicians in a control room monitor patients constantly. Cameras provide a live video feed, and wireless monitoring equipment tracks brain activity. This allows patients to walk around the nearby area, carrying only a small piece of equipment in a bag.
Patients can get bored being in bed all day, but they don't have to stay there now," said clinical coordinator Tina Heddens.
She said each patient is usually monitored for three to five days, and the unit has seen about 10 cases since their opening in December.
We can collect the data, pinpoint in the brain where the seizure is occurring and evaluate it, and then give it to the patient's physician," Heddens said.
The hospital plans to add two more beds near the current unit and four in the pediatric area as needs increase, Heddens said.
According to The Epilepsy Foundation, approximately 2.7 million Americans have the condition, with 200,000 new diagnoses each year.
Shannon Robbins, the foundation's community outreach director in Houston, said more than 40,000 people are affected in the Greater Houston area.
Singh, who can monitor a patient's status by logging in from his home computer, said around-the-clock monitoring gives medical staff a better idea of what happens before, during and after a seizure.
For more details, call 832-912-3873 or go to www.ncmc-hospital.com.
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