Akila Venkataraman, M.D., a pediatric neurologist at the Lutheran Epilepsy Center, is hopeful about the future of pediatric epilepsy. "It's an exciting time in the field right now," Dr. Venkataraman says. "Pediatric epilepsy has always been clumped together with adult epilepsy. But children need to be treated differently because their bodies and brains are still developing and aren't the same as an adult's. In recent years, there's been a lot more research in this area. Thanks to emerging technologies, we're able to diagnose epilepsy in children much earlier and drug therapies have improved. We're also experimenting with alternative methods, as well as lifestyle modifications that can help."
A Step in the Right Direction
In fact, research on medications for children with seizure disorders has recently yielded improvements in treatments. "Previously, the Food and Drug Administration was extremely stringent about approving any medications for children because of the side effects that could potentially impact a child's development," Dr. Venkataraman says. "As a result, our options were very limited and insufficient. Now, drug trials are lowering age cutoffs, so they're including more of the pediatric population to make sure medications are safe and effective for children as well."
Hope for a Brighter Future
The new frontiers in pediatric epilepsy aren't limited to research and treatment alone. In fact, the increase in awareness about the disorder has also helped make life easier for children with epilepsy.
"As an example, this past spring, I found myself busier than ever filling out camp forms so children with seizure disorders could attend summer camps," Dr. Venkataraman says. "This may seem insignificant to some, but it makes a world of difference for children who have epilepsy. At the end of the day, my goal – whether or not I can cure epilepsy – is to improve the quality of life for my patients. With more education, information and acceptance, there's no reason these kids can't lead normal lives."
Click here for recent news coverage of pediatric epilepsy that was featured in the November episode of HealthBeat Brooklyn.
Click here to read about Lutheran's video EEG monitoring unit for children, as featured on Nurse.com.
For more information about the Lutheran Epilepsy Center call 718-630-8600 or click here. To make an appointment with Dr. Venkataraman please call 718-630-7316.
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