Article, originally featured on EurekAlert
Having subtler symptoms, a form of epilepsy that affects only one part of the brain often goes undiagnosed long enough to cause unexpected seizures that contribute to car crashes, a new study finds.
The study, published online Oct. 20 in the journal Epilepsia, addressed focal epilepsy, the most common form of this brain disorder. Researchers say the study is among the first to outline failure to recognize symptoms of subtle seizures as a main reason for the delay in diagnosis.
Led by researchers at NYU School of Medicine, the study shows that it can take on average two years for physicians to recognize the early signs of focal epilepsy, particularly in a subset of patients with seizures that do not involve uncontrolled movements of their arms and legs. Symptoms of these “non-motor seizures” instead may include a recurring brief hallucination, a strong sense of déjà vu, or sensations of a dreamlike state while awake.
Subtler cases are often not diagnosed until they have progressed to disruptive “motor” seizures, say the study authors, which can cause the unrestrained, whole-body spasms often portrayed in popular culture.