Epilepsy Patients

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Comprehensive Epilepsy Center?

A comprehensive epilepsy center provides specialized care to epilepsy patients. The Center has specialized information for patients as well as access to all modalities of diagnosis and treatment. In addition to regular patient care, the center also does research and teaching in Epilepsy. Our office has a patient education center with books, videotapes, DVDs and brochures and handouts about epilepsy. We have video information about epilepsy surgery available for viewing in our office.

Dr. Rodgers-Neame is a Board-Certified Neurologist, associated with the University Community Hospital Neurodiagnostics Department and the Tampa General Hospital Epilepsy Program, which are two of the six hospital-based Epilepsy Centers in Florida recognized by the National Association for Epilepsy Centers.  She is an affiliate of the Departments of Neurology and Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology at the University of South Florida College of Medicine.

What is an Epileptologist?

An epileptologist is a neurologist who has received 1 to 3 years of additional training in epilepsy beyond that of a regular neurologist. Epileptologists have additional expertise in EEG interpretation, surgical evaluation, and video monitoring. Some epileptologists have training and research experience in the basic science of epilepsy. Dr. Rodgers-Neame has been trained as a clinical fellow in Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology at Southern Illinois University, as a Neurologist at the University of South Florida and in Internal Medicine and neuroscience research at Washington University, St. Louis.

If you are an uninsured resident of Florida you may be able to get assistance at either Epilepsy Services of West Central Florida, or at Suncoast Epilepsy Association

In our office, we have a state of the art EEG with Xltek digital equipment with seizure focus mapping so that we can provide printed copies of seizure foci and copies of seizure discharges so that patients and referring physicians can make them a part of their permanent medical record. Further information on electroencephalography and what it is for is available on WebMD's site

What is an EEG?

One of the tests that is frequently performed in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy is an EEG. In this test, electrodes are attached to the scalp and the electrical activity of the brain measured. Abnormalities in the pattern that is obtained can indicate whether there is a behavior of the brain that causes seizures.

It is quite painless and normally takes about 40 minutes. We like to obtain patterns during sleep, drowsiness and while the patient is awake.

We will also do tests over several days (ambulatory EEG). In these tests, the patient wears a small recording device that records brain electrical activity during normal activites and thus gives the doctor a more comprehensive picture.

It is probable that an EEG will be obtained during a 3-5 day hospital visit. This is different from the above tests - in this case, we want the patient to have a seizure so that we can see the changes on an EEG and correlate this with a video recording of what the patient is doing at the time. As we hope for a seizure, we stop medications. The test is performed in a hospital so that the patient is safe.

This is a very important test that differentiates between different types of seizure - the results may make a big difference in the treatments that will be used to get the seizures controlled.

Is it legal for me to drive if I have epilepsy?

Different states have different rules about who may or may not drive. The Florida guidelines are here

Generic Medications for Epilepsy - are they safe?

There is no such thing as a "safe" medication - just different degrees of risk. Even aspirin can be dangerous if you cannot tolerate it. When you take medication to control seizures you are choosing to reduce your chance of having dangerous seizures, but in exchange, you are increasing your risk of other things (side effects). The side effects, if any, are usually minor and the exchange is worthwhile.

Generic medications are safe, but they are not identical to the name brand medications. They may have been manufactured in a different way from the name-brand medications so that the rate they are absorbed and the rate that they are broken down may differ.

Generic medications are often cheaper than name-brand drugs. Increasingly, they are preferred by insurers, for this reason. However, they are not without risks that are not found when using name-brand medication.If you take generics - pay attention to who actually made your medication. For example, there are at least five manufacturers of lamotrigine, the generic equivalent of Lamictal, as many as 17 manufacturers of zonegran, etc. Generic manufactures try to be as close to the original drug as possible in effectiveness and in the way the drug i s broken down (metabolized) by the body. The active ingredient is identical to the name brand drug. The FDA requires generics to be within 80 - 125% of the name brand in their effectiveness.

This means that if you change from one generic to a different generic (same chemical name, different manufacturer) the way your body processes the drug may change due a different filling material or a different fabrication method. The change from one generic to another generic with the same name may be bigger than the change from the name-brand drug to either of the generics.

If you, or your doctor, decide that generics will help you, pay attention to the brand (your pharmacy can help you here - ask them who the manufacturer is). Try and keep to the same manufacturer.

A detailed description is herehttp://professionals.epilepsy.com/page/generic_considerations.html

WebMD also has useful information on this topic http://www.webmd.com/epilepsy/features/epilepsy-medications-when-is-it-safe-to-substitute-a-generic