Epilepsy | Seizures

The skilled specialty teams at MaineHealth diagnose and treat epilepsy in both adults and children. They work with patients and their families to diagnose conditions and create treatment plans based on individual needs.

Maine Medical Center Neuroscience Institute has Maine’s only Level 3 Epilepsy Center for the most advanced evaluation, diagnosis and care for adults and children with epilepsy or suspected epilepsy. The program is staffed with adult and pediatric epileptologists who are fellowship trained in evaluating and managing epilepsy patients. 

What is epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes seizures. Epilepsy affects nerve cell activity in the brain. Epilepsy is diagnosed in people of all ages.

Seizure symptoms can vary with epilepsy

The seizure symptoms of epilepsy are not the same for each person. The type of seizure depends on the part of the brain affected.  Symptoms include:

  • Convulsions

  • Fainting

  • Muscle twitching, muscle spasms

  • Memory loss (amnesia)

  • Staring blankly

  • Unable to move (paralysis) after a seizure

Epilepsy causes

Epilepsy causes can include:

  • Head injuries

  • Brain tumors

  • Infections, such as meningitis

  • Stroke

Diagnosing epilepsy

For an epilepsy diagnosis, your family doctor or provider will ask for a complete medical history, including:

  • Any family history of seizures

  • List of medication you are taking

  • Previous illnesses, injuries and health conditions

The patient also may have several diagnostic tests:

  • Neurological test (checking reflexes, eyesight, hearing)

  • MRI exam of the brain

  • Blood tests

  • EEG

The electroencephalogram (EEG) is important for an epilepsy diagnosis, because it checks electrical activity in the brain. When a person has a seizure, the electrical activity will be abnormal.

Epilepsy treatment

Epilepsy usually is managed with medication. Other treatments can include surgery, medical devices, and making changes in eating habits.

Maine's only Level 3 Epilepsy Center

Maine Medical Center Neuroscience Institute, along with Maine Medical Partners – Neurology, offers Maine’s only Level 3 Epilepsy Center. The Level 3 Epilepsy Center includes:

  • Inpatient epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) for continuous EEG and video monitoring
  • Epileptologists who are fellowship trained and see more than 500 patients with epilepsy or suspected epilepsy yearly
  • Complete medical, neuropsychological and psychosocial services
  • Vagal nerve stimulation assessment and implantation
  • Access to neuro-rehabilitation services
  • Clinical trials for access to new anti-seizure therapies
  • Teams of specialists for both adult and pediatric patients
Learn more