• Learning disability;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Topiramate;
  • Side effects;
  • Efficacy

Summary:  Purpose: Management of seizures in learning disabled people is challenging. This prospective study explored the efficacy and tolerability of adjunctive topiramate (TPM) in patients with learning disability and refractory epilepsy attending a single centre.

Methods: Sixty-four patients (36 men, 28 women, aged 16–65 years) were begun on adjunctive TPM after a 3-month prospective baseline on unchanged medication. Efficacy end points were reached when a consistent response was achieved over a 6-month period at optimal TPM dosing. These were seizure freedom or ≥50% seizure reduction (responder). Appetite, behaviour, alertness, and sleep were assessed by caregivers throughout the study.

Results: Sixteen (25%) patients became seizure free with adjunctive TPM. There were 29 (45%) responders. A further 10 (16%) patients experiencing a more modest improvement in seizure control continued on treatment at the behest of their family and/or caregivers. TPM was discontinued in the remaining nine (14%) patients, mainly because of side effects. Final TPM doses and plasma concentrations varied widely among the efficacy outcome groups. Many patients responding well to adjunctive TPM did so on ≤200 mg daily. Mean carer scores did not worsen with TPM therapy.

Conclusions: TPM was effective as add-on therapy in learning-disabled people with difficult-to-control epilepsy. Seizure freedom is a realistic goal in this population.