Case Notes

Why is there electrical activity in the brain? Describe how it is used by neurons. We have electrical activity in the brain in order to send messages to and from neurons. Neurons can be either “off,” or “on.”  Each message passes through neurons to get where it needs to be and the electrical activity help it get there.

What happens in the brain during a seizure? A seizure is when there is a continuous period of hyperactivity in the brain. Which basically means when there is abnormal electrical activity.

What is epilepsy? How is it diagnosed? Epilepsy is a brain disorder that has recurring strokes and losses of consciousness. It can me diagnosed by an EEG or MRI scan.

What are the procedures for doing an EEG test and MRI scan? What type of information does each of these tests provide? (See here for EEG info and MRI info, make sure you follow the sublinks in the navigation bar on the left for more info) An EEG is a small helmet on your head that detects and records brain activity. It shows electrical impulses and so showing a disturbance will help diagnose epilepsy. An MRI takes an image of your brain. The MRI can help to find an abnormality in your brain to diagnose epilepsy.

What are some possible causes of seizures other than epilepsy? Shaking of the body can cause a seizure. This doesn’t happen every time but it is a possibility.

Based on the information in the case, what type of seizures does Jerrod appear to be having? Jerrod appears to have epilepsy.

What should you do during a seizure to help Jerrod? You should stay calm, and protect him from injury. If he is on stairs or somewhere where he could fall you need to help him.

What are some treatments for epilepsy? There are certain diets one can go on, certain vitamins you can take, and a surgery is possible.

  • What is Rasmussen Syndrome (what are its history, symptoms, prognosis, etc.)? Rasmussen syndrome is a disease where the patient (usually under 15) experiences frequent seizures and loss of speech and motor skills. But damage has only ever been seen in one side of the brain.
  • How did the doctors use EEG and MRI to help diagnose the disorder? The EEG will show that the abnormal electrical activity is not happening all over the brain, but rather in a smaller section. The MRI will show that there is only damage in one hemisphere. In Jerrod’s it is his left.
  • What structures or abilities of the brain are concentrated in the areas of the left hemisphere that would be removed in the hemispherectomy? The loss of Jerrod’s temporal lobe will mean he will lose the ability to retain long term memories and react/ analyze visual stimuli. But this is only in one half of his temporal lobe. If Jerrod loses part of his frontal lobe, he will lose some of his ability to reason, problem solve, and experience emotion. The parietal lobe is for reacting to sensory information (pain, touch, etc.). The occipital is for visual functions. Lastly, the corpus collosum is the small bundle of fibers that connects the two hemispheres and lets them communicate.
  • Other than reducing his seizures, how else might Jerrod’s thinking or behavior be affected by losing these parts of his brain? Jerrod would lose a lot of memory, he may not be able to move parts of his body on the right side, and he could forget how to do simple tasks.
  • What types of abilities would he still retain, because the brain structures would remain intact? He would still be able to move the right part of his body, create motivation, sending out memories, and wake up in the morning!
  • What might the family do to help Jerrod recover after such a surgery? The family will need to reteach a lot of things to Jerrod, including basic, daily functions.
  • If Jerrod had the surgery, would his level of functioning get better, worse, or stay the same over time? Over time it will get better because there are doctors who work with post-brain surgery patients to help improve their lives.
  • What other kinds of questions would you have about the surgery? Can you find the answers? 1. What does the surgery cost? 2. How long does it take? 3. What are the major risks during the surgery?
  • What decision do you recommend to the family? Why or why not go ahead with surgery? I do recommend the surgery. This disease is incredibly rare and the surgery seems to be the only way of stopping the damage to your brain.





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