Topiramate in Patients with Learning Disability and Refractory Epilepsy


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Professor M.J. Brodie at Epilepsy Unit, Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Western Infirmary, Glasgow G11 6NT, Scotland. E-mail:


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.