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Epilepsy - new approach to diagnosis
[Posted: Fri 27/01/2006 www.irishhealth.com]
By Deborah Condon
New research which indicates that the risk of diagnosing epilepsy incorrectly can be reduced when doctors analyse the language patients use to describe their seizures, is set to be discussed at a major European meeting next week.
Neurologists, linguists and epilepsy experts from across Europe are meeting in Sheffield in the UK, to discuss this new approach to diagnosis.
Pioneered in Germany, it is hoped that the approach will help doctors to better distinguish between people suffering from epilepsy and those suffering from non-epileptic seizures (NES).
Anyone can have a seizure if the brain is exposed to a strong enough stimulus. One in every 20 people will have a single seizure at some time during their lives. However people with epilepsy have recurring seizures.
This is caused by abnormal electrical impulses in the brain. These seizures can vary from person to person. Around 40,000 people in Ireland have epilepsy.
A non-epileptic seizure on the other hand can be caused by, for example, emotional trauma.
According to the University of Sheffield's Academic Neurology Unit, where this is being studied, thousands of people are wrongly diagnosed with epilepsy and are receiving potentially harmful treatment with anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs) as a result.
This new method of diagnosis helps doctors to distinguish between patients with epilepsy and NES, by giving the patients the opportunity to describe their seizure experience freely. It also shows doctors how to listen to what is being said.
Using a process called conversation analysis, researchers have found that people suffering from seizures talk about them in one way if they are caused by epilepsy and in another way if they are not.
For example, a patient with epilepsy will tend to volunteer many details about what it felt like to have a seizure and how they will try to 'fight it off'. Patients with NES tend to talk about their seizures in terms of a complete memory loss, which is more similar to amnesia linked to traumatic events.
"Diagnosing epilepsy as opposed to NES is always difficult, as there is no single clinical feature that would allow a definite diagnosis one way or the other. This conference will give experts from across Europe the chance to come together and show how a linguistic research technique can help doctors when they meet patients with seizures", explained Dr Markus Reuber of the Sheffield unit.
The conference will take place in Sheffield on February 3 and 4.
For more information on epilepsy, see our Epilepsy Clinic at...
|Val(JJE43856) Posted: 20/03/2006 17:09|
|This research interests me greatly. I have just completed a MSc in Health Psychology (at City University, London) and one thing that came out of my exploratory study (10 interviews with people with epilepsy) was the interesting language they used to describe their seizures. I am just completing a proposal for a PhD so that I can extend my original project with a more in depth analysis of the original interview language and further interviews with people with epilepsy and focus groups with doctors and nurses. I used Interpretative Phenomenological analysis in the exploratory study and undertook it in a primary care practice in East Yorkshire. I would be interested in knowing how your research in this area is progressing, do you plan to present it anywhere again soon?|
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