Purple Day for Epilepsy, March 26
Saturday, March 26 is Purple Day, a time to recognize the effect epilepsy has on millions of people around the world. It is estimated that 1 in a 100 people worldwide have epilepsy. Of those, one in three require surgery to prevent a lifetime of seizures. Purple Day was created in 2008 by Cassidy Megan, a girl from Nova Scotia, to get people talking about epilepsy in an effort to dispel myths and inform those with seizures that they are not alone.
For almost 60 years, The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital at McGill University and the McGill University Health Centre - The Neuro- has been at the forefront of epilepsy treatment and research. The Neuro’s founder, Dr. Wilder Penfield, and his colleagues developed the “Montreal Procedure,” which revolutionized the surgical treatment for epilepsy. Thanks to this procedure, many thousands of epilepsy patients became free of seizures. The Neuro also pioneered the use of electroencephalography (EEG) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the study and treatment of epilepsy.
The Neuro’s Epilepsy Clinic provides both in-patient and out-patient evaluation and treatments for about 1,500 patients a year. The Neuro’s Epilepsy Program has a multi-disciplinary team of epileptologists, neurosurgeons, nurses, neuropsychologists, neuropsychiatrists, social workers, EEG technologists, nurse clinicians and case managers.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder characterized by a sudden, brief change in the brain, expressed as a seizure. According to Epilepsy Canada, approximately one per cent of Canadians have epilepsy. Thirty per cent of new Canadian cases are children. In about half of child cases, seizures eventually disappear.
Epilepsy is a result of different causes: malformations during brain development, a head injury that causes scarring to the brain tissue, high fever and prolonged convulsions during early childhood, trauma at birth, a stroke or tumour.
One out of three patients cannot control seizures solely by using available medications. For these patients, surgical removal of the brain tissue causing seizures is the only known effective treatment for controlling seizures and improving quality of life.
Seizures can be triggered by outside events such as strobe lights, or by a person’s state of health---fatigue, illness, hunger, emotional stress.
The Neuro’s Epilepsy Specialists:
Frederick Andermann – a world-renowned researcher who has described how defects in neuronal migration underlie various epileptic syndromes. He also studies how epilepsy influences patients’ behaviour. Dr. Andermann received the 2003 Prix Wilder Penfield, Quebec’s highest award for scientific achievement. In 2015, he received the International Bureau for Epilepsy and the International League Against Epilepsy (IBE/ILAE) Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding achievement in the international struggle against epilepsy. This is the highest accolade presented by IBE/ILAE and recognises those exceptional people who have devoted a career lifetime to improving the quality of life of people with epilepsy.
Eva Andermann – a clinician/researcher who has focussed on the genetic factors that underlie epilepsy and its syndromes. She also provides genetic counselling to epilepsy patients’ families.
Andrea Bernasconi – a clinician and epileptologist specializing in neuroimaging of epilepsy. He uses advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques to create models of epileptogenic lesions. His specialized MRI analyses can identify neuronal migration disorders that conventional imaging often cannot detect.
Neda Ladbon-Bernasconi – a researcher using advanced MRI techniques to study the biological basis of epilepsy. Her work has helped to understand various epilepsy syndromes, particularly those related to the limbic system, which is linked to basic human emotions and memory. Dr. Ladbon-Bernasconi is the co-founder of the Neuroimaging of Epilepsy Laboratory (NOEL). She was awarded the 2015 Canadian League Against Epilepsy Excellence in Research Award.
François Dubeau - a neurologist who in collaboration with Dr. Jean Gotman uses advanced electroencephalographic and brain-imaging methods to study the correlations between epileptic foci and brain lesions. Together they are examining the nature of the brain's metabolic response to epileptic seizures. They are also studying methods to predict and detect seizures in patients with intractable focal epilepsy. The two are part of an international team that is using intracerebral recordings to map the normal cerebral electroencephalographic activity in humans.
Jean Gotman – a researcher using a novel combination of functional imaging techniques and electroencephalography to study brain regions where patients’ epileptic attacks are occurring. His work has improved our understanding of epileptogenesis and our ability to locate epileptogenic regions. Dr. Gotman has also developed widely used software for epilepsy patient monitoring. In 2015, he was recognized with the Ambassador award from the International Bureau for Epilepsy and the International League Against Epilepsy (IBE/ILAE). Given biannually, The Ambassador for Epilepsy Award is intended as a recognition of outstanding international contributions to activities advancing the cause of epilepsy, either internationally or with international impact.
Jeffrey Hall – a specialist in the neurosurgical treatment of epilepsy with a particular interest in complex cases. Dr. Hall is on the leading edge of exploring epileptic foci through the robotic insertion of MRI-compatible intracranial electrodes. This technique is helping patients to control seizures and allowing researchers to better understand basic neurophysiological mechanisms underlying seizure disorders.
Eliane Kobayashi – a neurologist applying functional neuroimaging to study epileptic foci and epilepsy networks.
André Olivier - a neurosurgeon who pioneered the procedure of depth electrodes at the MNI, Olivier also introduced the robotic approach, and has written a book on epilepsy surgery.
Martin Veilleux – a neurologist treating epilepsy patients.
The Neuro: The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital - The Neuro, is a unique academic medical centre dedicated to neuroscience. A research and teaching institute of McGill University, The Neuro forms the basis for the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. Founded in 1934 by Dr. Wilder Penfield, The Neuro is recognized internationally for integrating research, compassionate patient care and advanced training, all key to advances in science and medicine. Neuro researchers are world leaders in cellular and molecular neuroscience, brain imaging, cognitive neuroscience and the study and treatment of epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and neuromuscular disorders. For more information, please visit www.theneuro.ca