"We are beginning to get an integrated understanding on what goes on in the brain. Hopefully, many of these new insights will translate into better bed-side protocols in the next decade or so."

Epilepsy management in children needs to step beyond controlling seizures and examine the gamut of neuro-behavioural aspects of the disorder on the patient, Rochelle Caplan, paediatric neuropsychiatrist, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), said on Friday.

The quality of interventions will have to be assessed against the extent to which the patient’s educational, vocational and social aspects of life are enabled, Dr. Caplan told The Hindu on the sidelines of a seminar on “The Brain and Mind of a Child” hosted by the Neuroscience India Group at Voluntary Health Services.

“It is a given fact that epilepsy in children carries a range of co-morbidities that manifest as depression, learning disability or other developmental disorders,” she said.

Unfortunately, many of these social, psychological and behavioural dimensions of epilepsy are either un-diagnosed or under-diagnosed, said Dr. Caplan.

However, there is now a growing acceptance in the medical fraternity that epilepsy management should be multi-disciplinary where the team includes epileptologist, psychiatrist, psychologist, medical social worker and educationist.

Dr. Caplan, who is part of a research team seeking to correlate multi-modal neuro-imagery with the cognitive pattern in children with epilepsy, attaches great significance to the benchmarks for future research in epilepsy advanced by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in the U.S.

“By setting out co-morbidities as integral to the focus of epilepsy research in future, the benchmarks seek to prevent, limit and reverse the co-morbidities associated with epilepsy and its treatment,” she said.

Dr. Caplan says existing imaging techniques had opened up a total new world in the scientific community’s understanding of brain structure, functions and behaviour.

“We are beginning to get an integrated understanding on what goes on in the brain. Hopefully, many of these new insights will translate into better bed-side protocols in the next decade or so,” she said.

However, she feels that scientific progress had to be matched by positive social attitudes towards epilepsy patients.

“We have a long way to go in removing stigma attached to epilepsy. And, it is also important that awareness campaigns take into account the cultural traits of various communities,” she added.

More In: Medicine | Health | Sci-Tech