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Diagnosing Epilepsy: January 30, 2019

Shelly Callender’s daughter Addy started having seizures when she was 19 years old. “She said she didn’t know what happened; she didn’t think anything had happened, that she must have fallen asleep. It was just kind of hard to process what was really going on because we didn’t see it,” said Callender.

With Addy having no history of seizures, Shelly didn’t question the events further. But just five days later, Addy had another episode—this time it was witnessed by a friend.  “It was early morning, and she had just woken up, and I think maybe fell back asleep, and her friend came in and saw her seizing,” she said.

Addy underwent an EEG test at Golisano Children’s Hospital. The study uses cameras and electrodes to monitor a child’s brain activity during a series of tests. After just a few hours, doctors diagnosed her with epilepsy.

“When she was getting the EEG diagnostic test done, they did a flashing light, the strobe light, and that put her into a tonic seizure. Her face turned red; she was drooling, she wasn’t alert, her body was stiff, lasting about three or four minutes. It was horrible,” said Callender.

Doctors determined Addy’s seizures were caused by stress. “It’s a very real physical display of underlying emotional stressors that are often subconscious,” explained Dr. Britt Stroud, a pediatric neurologist with Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

But with treatment, there is good news. “About 70 percent of the time kids grow out of their seizure after about two years of seizure freedom,” said Dr. Stroud.

If a child has a seizure, it’s important to stay calm—put the child on their side and don’t stick anything in their mouth. If the seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, call 911. Getting a child testing and treatment can help prevent future seizures.

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