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Why Your Child Needs An Evaluation By Specialists After Their First Seizure

A Gillette patient takes a test for his seizures.

After a child has a seizure for the first time, it can be scary and overwhelming. Talking to medical professionals and getting answers is the best way to put worries at ease. At Gillette Children’s, we work one-on-one with patients and their families in order to determine underlying causes. Then, we create a tailored treatment plan. With all of your child’s providers in one place, it eliminates the need for multiple visits and the need to wait for a referral. 

Seeing a specialist means speaking with someone who is an expert in their field. From infants to teens, Gillette Children’s has helped patients who experience unprovoked or prolonged seizures. Our team is made up of nurse practitioners and pediatric neurologists who specialize in this area of medicine. This means that all of your questions can be answered. 

What Happens During An Evaluation? 

During your child’s seizure evaluation, you will discuss your child’s medical history with an experienced nurse practitioner. The nurse practitioner will also complete a physical exam. The goal is to identify the seizure type and cause, as well as determine whether or not your child is at risk for more seizures. There are certain tests we can run in order to pinpoint what is going on. 

It is important to know that there are many different types of seizures. Focal seizures, generalized seizures, myoclonic seizures and febrile seizures are just a few of the most common types of seizures. Each of these have to do with the specific part of the brain or body where the activity is happening.  

For young children or children with complex medical conditions, a neurology evaluation is the next step. An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a safe, painless diagnostic test that records brain waves. This helps your child’s provider take a look at the brain’s activity and could help identify where the seizures are starting. 

After the evaluation is completed, your child’s provider will decide the next steps to take. For some, this means ongoing treatment. For others, it means monitoring your child and learning how to recognize and monitor seizures. Medications can also be useful, depending on the circumstances.

A Gillette patient gets an EEG test.

Determining The Cause Of A Seizure Leads To Proper Treatment 

So, what caused the first seizure? While this answer is unique to each child, the first diagnosis we usually look to is epilepsy. Epilepsy is defined as a condition where disrupted brain activity leads to a seizure. In other words, the seizures are not caused by anything in particular, but rather the actual brain activity is interrupted. The good news is that intervention and treatment can ease the symptoms of epilepsy. 

Common causes of epilepsy include brain injury due to premature birth, chromosomal abnormalities, genetic factors, blood infections, metabolic disorders and traumatic brain injuries. Since Gillette Children’s specializes in many different fields, the good news is that you can see multiple care providers at once. Here, we work together in a cohesive group to make sure each child gets the best possible treatment. 

A child who has provoked seizures will not be diagnosed with epilepsy. In these cases, there is a different underlying condition. Rest assured, we will find a treatment plan for this, as well.

In general, there are certain symptoms of seizures that you should look for. If your child has repetitive, involuntary jerking movements, loss of consciousness or changes in breathing patterns, he or she may experience a seizure soon. The team at Gillette Children’s will provide you with the information you need so that you can help your child through it. 

As A Caregiver, How Can I Help My Child? 

While we understand that a seizure can feel chaotic, there are some things you can do as a caregiver that can help your child’s provider. Try to time when the seizure started and stopped. Notice where in their body their seizure started. Was it in their hands, arms or legs? What type of movement did you see? Were they jerking or twitching? Did they experience anything unusual before the seizure started? Answers to these questions can be extremely helpful, but do not worry if you can’t remember everything. 

If your child has had a seizure, it is important to get an evaluation by an expert. Proper treatment can lead to a happy, healthy life. At Gillette Children’s, that is our top priority.

A Gillette patient gets a test for his ongoing seizures.