Epilepsy Center achieves advanced national designation

The Nebraska Medical Center's Epilepsy Center was recently recognized by The National Association of Epilepsy Centers as a level four regional center for the treatment of epilepsy - the highest designation possible. The Nebraska Epilepsy Center is the most comprehensive center of its kind in the region and has the technology, treatment options and medical expertise to provide any type of therapy available in the world.

To qualify as a level four epilepsy center, the center must provide the most complex forms of intensive neurodiagnostic monitoring, as well as extensive medical, neuropsychological and psychosocial treatment, a complete evaluation for epilepsy surgery, including intracranial electrodes, and a broad range of surgical procedures for epilepsy.

picture disc."This is the most advanced designation for any epilepsy center," said epileptologist Sanjay Singh, M.D., director of the center and assistant professor of neurological sciences at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. "Being able to satisfy these criteria is a testament to all of the hard work and expertise from the people on our team and to the support from The Nebraska Medical Center and the University of Nebraska Medical Center."

Founded in August 2002, the Nebraska Epilepsy Center is the only comprehensive center in Nebraska, western Iowa and South Dakota that treats epilepsy patients, educates physicians and the public, and does research. "For a center that has only been in existence for 2 1/2 years, this is a unique achievement to get the highest designation given only to the most advanced epilepsy centers," Dr. Singh said.

The center employs a comprehensive four-phase monitoring and treatment program using some of the most advanced diagnostic equipment available. This sophisticated technology enables doctors to accurately pinpoint the site of a seizure and type of epilepsy.

The Nebraska Epilepsy Center offers several new and promising treatment options that are helping patients with even the most difficult to treat epilepsy cases. Many of these patients do not respond well to medications and may be considered candidates for resective surgery or vagal nerve stimulation. In the past, these patients had no options except medications.

Since opening approximately two and one-half years ago, the Nebraska Epilepsy Center manages the care of more than 1,200 patients. To upgrade its facility, the center recently moved to a new state-of-the-art inpatient monitoring unit built with the most sophisticated technology available, Dr. Singh said. The center also is upgrading its MRI capabilities, which will tremendously advance the ability to detect areas in the brain that give rise to epilepsy. Within the next year, the center also will start an epilepsy fellowship to further advance care in this region.

Formed in April 2004, the only epilepsy support group in Nebraska meets the third Tuesday of each month on the UNMC campus in Wittson Hall, Room 3010. Members are at work on a number of projects, including starting an epilepsy foundation in Omaha, organizing an inaugural fund-raising dinner and silent auction in 2006, and developing an education program for local businesses and schools that helps dispel the misconceptions surrounding the disorder.