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Keywords:

  • Epilepsy;
  • Mental retardation;
  • Refractory epilepsy;
  • Antiepileptic medications discontinuation

Summary: Purpose: Epilepsy is a common problem in institutionalized patients with multiple handicaps. Limited data exist on the characteristics of epilepsy in this patient population and the impact of systematic evaluation by an epilepsy service.

Methods: We evaluated 138 patients with epilepsy, institutionalized at a facility that cares for 324 patients with multiple handicaps. Evaluation included EEG, MRI, and video-EEG monitoring. The medication regimen was changed according to seizure diagnosis and the status of seizure control. Follow-up was available for ≥6 months in 110 patients, 1 year for 89, and 1.5 years for 49 patients. We analyzed the seizure and epilepsy diagnosis in this population, as well as the seizure frequency after evaluation and treatment

Results: The 76 male and 62 female patients' ages ranged from 14 to 73 years. Seventy-three patients had fewer than one seizure per month, whereas 29 patients had at least one seizure per month. Of 131 patients taking antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), 62 were receiving monotherapy, and 69 were receiving two or more AEDs. At the last follow-up, overall 55% of patients had reduced seizure frequency, including 23% who became seizure free. Two of 36 patients had spontaneous seizure recurrence after being seizure free with no AEDs for 4 months in one patient and 3 years for the other. Attempts were made to discontinue phenobarbital, primidone, and clonazepam in 21 patients. However, these were discontinued in only five patients.

Conclusions: Epilepsy is heterogeneous in institutionalized patients with multiple handicaps. It is often responsive to medical therapy. Evaluation and treatment by epilepsy specialists had an overall favorable impact on seizure control.