Treatment & Care
At Boston Children’s Hospital, we care for children who have epilepsy or who have experienced seizures through the Epilepsy Program, Fetal-Neonatal Neurology Program and many other programs that are dedicated to caring for children with disorders that may cause seizures.
If your child is experiencing seizures that are triggered by another disease or injury, specialists experienced in treating that condition work closely with our epilepsy and seizure specialists to provide the best possible care for your child. We work together and with your family to help your child live a seizure-free life, and to minimize any complications from seizures.
Treatment may include:
We use a variety of anti-seizure medications. We choose medications for your child based on the type of seizures she’s having and her age. We also try to minimize side effects from medication.
For certain children whose seizures are not well-controlled by medications, we may prescribe a specialized diet called the ketogenic diet. This diet usually has to be started in the hospital, and your child’s medical team will provide close follow-up to help your family implement the diet at home and to make sure your child is tolerating it well.
In certain very severe cases, we may recommend surgery, which generally involves removing the brain tissue where your child’s seizures start or preventing their spread. Our team at Children’s uses a variety of specialized tests to carefully plan any surgery we are considering and to ensure that it is the best option for your child.
- A relatively new type of treatment for seizures that are hard to control is vagal nerve stimulation (VNS), in which a small pacemaker is implanted under the skin below the collarbone to deliver small pulses of electricity to the vagal nerve, one of the major nerves running along the neck to the brain.
You can read more about all of these treatments on our Epilepsy page.
An important part of caring for your child is treating not only the seizures themselves, but any complications they may cause. For example, neuropsychologists use specialized testing to monitor your child’s cognitive abilities, learning, behavior, emotional well-being and social function, in order to develop strategies that will help your child function at her highest possible level.
If existing therapies don’t control your child’s seizures, or if we believe that experimental methods would improve her treatment, we may recommend a clinical trial. Our team will take care to explain these options to your family. Participation in any clinical trial is completely voluntary.
You can read more about our research and the new treatments we are developing for children with seizures on the Research & Innovations tab.
Visit the Boston Children’s clinical research site to learn about clinical trials throughout Boston Children’s.
Coping and support
Seizures can be incredibly disruptive and frightening—not only for your child, but for your whole family. From your first visit at Boston Children’s, you’ll work with a team of professionals who are committed to supporting you.
There are a variety of resources at Boston Children’s to help you and your family through this difficult time:
Patient education: From office visits to inpatient testing or surgery, our nurses will be on hand to walk you through your child’s treatment and help answer any questions you may have. They will also reach out to you by phone, continuing the care and support you receive while you’re at Boston Children’s.
Parent to parent: Want to talk with someone whose child has been treated for a similar seizure disorder? We can often put you in touch with other families who have been down a similar road and can share their experience.
Faith-based support: Your child’s seizures and their impact on her may be hard on your whole family. You may also find yourself needing to make difficult decisions about your child’s treatment. If you and your family are in need of spiritual support, we can connect you with the Boston Children’s chaplaincy. Our program includes nearly a dozen clergy representing Episcopal, Jewish, Lutheran, Muslim, Roman Catholic, Unitarian and United Church of Christ traditions who will listen to you, pray with you and help you observe your own faith practices during your treatment experience.
Social work and mental health professionals: Our social workers and mental health clinicians have helped many other families in your situation. We can offer counseling and assistance with issues such as coping with your child’s diagnosis, stresses related to coping with illness and dealing with financial difficulties. Many of our programs that care for children with seizure disorders have social workers on their teams, so they’ve helped many other families whose children have similar conditions.
To find out more about support services available to families at Boston Children’s, you may want to explore the Family resources tab of the Boston Children’s For Patients and Families website, which also offers information on getting to Children’s, accommodations and navigating the hospital experience.
|One patient's story|
One of our patients wrote a post on Boston Children’s blog, Thrive, (December 1, 2009), where she describes her difficult journey and successful treatment with an experimental method called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). You can also read about TMS, a method being developed by Alexander Rotenberg, MD, in this article.
|Children speak: What's it like to be a medical research subject|
If you’re considering a clinical study at Boston Children’s, you and your child may want to watch this video. The real experts on clinical research studies—the children participating in them—tell about their experiences.