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For more information call 434.200.3600

Epilepsy Center

Centra Health

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Epilepsy Center

What is Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological disorder, characterized by recurrent, unprovoked seizures. A seizure is an event of altered brain function caused by abnormal or excessive electrical discharges from brain cells.  Epilepsy and seizures can develop at any age, but are more common in young children and older adults. The seizures in epilepsy may be related to a brain injury, genetic makeup, infection, or stroke, but often the cause is unknown.

Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders, it affects up to one percent of the population in the US. Anyone can develop epilepsy. Epilepsy affects both males and females of all races, ethnic backgrounds and ages. Seizure symptoms can vary widely, the following signs may indicate a seizure:

  • Staring and Unresponsiveness
  • Temporary Confusion
  • Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
  • Wandering
  • Shaking or Falling
  • Loss of consciousness or awareness
  • Psychic symptoms such as fear, anxiety or deja vu

Symptoms vary depending on the type of seizure. In most cases, a person with epilepsy will tend to have the same type of seizure each time, so the symptoms will be similar from episode to episode.Doctors generally classify seizures as either focal or generalized, based on how the abnormal brain activity begins.

Having a single seizure doesn't mean you have epilepsy. At least two unprovoked seizures are generally required for an epilepsy diagnosis.  Seek immediate medical help if any of the following occurs:

  • The seizure lasts more than five minutes.
  • Breathing or consciousness doesn't return after the seizure stops.
  • A second seizure follows immediately.
  • You have a high fever.
  • You're experiencing heat exhaustion.
  • You're pregnant.
  • You have diabetes.
  • You've injured yourself during the seizure.

Why should I be seen in Epilepsy Center?

There is no single test to diagnose seizures or epilepsy. However, there are certain common tests that can be performed in an epilepsy center to determine whether or not you have the disease. These include:

  • History and seizure descriptions
  • Blood tests
  • Computerized Tomography Scanning (CT)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Electroencephalograms (EEG)
  • Continuous EEG video monitoring 

If you are diagnosed with epilespy, providers at the center center can offer the most appropriate treatment options.

The Centra Epilepsy Center

The ultimate goal of treatment is to end seizures, prevent side effects, and help promote overall wellbeing. Long-term success requires a precise diagnosis and treatment matched to your individual needs. 

Under the medical direction of Batool F. Kirmani, MD, the Centra Epilepsy Center provides inpatient and outpatient diagnostic evaluations of epilepsy and offers options for appropriate treatment.  Epilepsy surgical interventions are conducted by specialized neurosurgeons who are experienced in multiple epilepsy surgical procedures, such as temporal and extratemporal resection, lesionectomy and vagus nerve stimulation, among others. You and your caregivers also will be provided with helpful education on living with epilepsy.

Outpatient Clinic

Centra’s outpatient clinic offers a wide range of services from initial evaluation, diagnosis, medication management, testing, diagnostic imaging, and lifestyle management resources for patients experiencing seizures and/or epilepsy. Our providers also assess if a patient would benefit from surgical intervention.


An electroencephalogram (EEG) is one of the main diagnostic tests for epilepsy. It is safe, painless test, which records the electrical activity produced by your brain. An EEG can determine changes in brain activity and can help diagnose brain disorders, especially those associated with epilepsy or other seizure disorders. A routine EEG typically takes 30 minutes to an hour to complete and is done during a scheduled appointment at the epilepsy clinic. If epilepsy waves occur in your brain only once every three or four hours, or if they only happen at certain times of day, a regular EEG might not record them. An ambulatory EEG uses a digital recording system to record brain activity for 24-72 hours while you go about your daily routine at home.

Click here for Ambulatory EEG Instructions

Epilepsy Monitoring Unity (EMU)

Patients are admitted to our epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) so that providers can record, evaluate, diagnose, and treat seizures. The EMU is fully equipped with electroencephalography (EEG – the measurement of electrical activity produced by the brain), video, and sound recording equipment that allow for continuous monitoring by our specially trained staff. The information obtained from this monitoring helps the epilepsy team recommend therapy to best treat your seizure disorder, including medication, lifestyle changes, vagus nerve stimulator, or surgical treatment. 

Click here to read more about what you can expect should you need to stay at our EMU.