Epilepsy Specialist Perth
About the role of an epileptologist
An epilepsy specialist, also called an epileptologist, should be able to support this specialisation with additional training, beyond their general qualification as a neurologist.
Personally, I decided to sub-specialise in epilepsy, because I wanted to help people whose daily life gets affected by this condition. The impact on your social and professional life can be severe, and I consider it my role to use my expertise to provide a clear diagnosis. And of course, the next step is to make decisions together about the most suitable treatment.
I am a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (FRACP) with specialist qualification in Neurology since 1994. In addition, I have had 3 years of sub-specialty training in Epileptology through an Epilepsy Fellowship at Austin Health in Melbourne, working with Professor Samuel Berkovic. This was followed by a post-doctorate Epilepsy Fellowship at the University of Alabama Birmingham, USA, working with Professor Ruben Kuzniecky. I was a recipient of a NH & MRC Postgraduate Medical Scholarship and have conducted research studies in the field of epileptology. I obtained a Doctor of Medicine (MD) from the University of Melbourne through submission of a research thesis entitled “Functional Neuroimaging in the Symptomatic Partial Epilepsies”.
I have published my research work on epilepsy in prestigious peer reviewed journals such as Annals of Neurology, Brain, Neurology, Epilepsia and American Journal of Neuroradiology.
It’s because of my research, and because of my ongoing commitment to help patients here in Perth, and to stay in touch with the national and international innovations in epilepsy treatment, that I am in a good position to help you if your GP believes that you need to see an epilepsy specialist.
Perth Epilepsy Specialist
Why see an epilepsy specialist?
In brief, an epilepsy specialist is basically a neurologist who has then received additional specific training in diagnosing and treating epilepsy.
Not all events that appear to be epileptic seizures, turn out to truly be seizures. It takes the expertise of a specialist, who sees a lot of epilepsy patients, to assess the symptoms, and to make an accurate diagnosis.
The experience across many cases has a benefit in the diagnosis phase. But having this accumulated knowledge is also extremely valuable for you as a patient, when it comes to selecting the best medication for your treatment. Choosing the right anti-seizure drugs, is the work of an experienced epilepsy specialist.
The common reasons to see an epilepsy specialist are:
- Your seizures are not controlled by your current medication - it may be necessary to change the dose of your drug, add another drug or perhaps change to a completely new drug.
- Your seizures are very difficult to control despite trials of many different anti-epileptic medications. As an epilepsy specialist, I may recommend special tests to see if you might need surgery, or other forms of treatment.
- Your GP can not answer your questions in a way that addresses your concerns or they are uncomfortable continuing to manage your condition.
Why is treatment of epilepsy important?
One of the essential things we aim for, is to prevent seizures in the future. If we can prevent epilepsy seizures, we reduce your risk of:
- Injuries from seizures
- Cognitive problems such as difficulty with memory, concentration, problem solving
- Mood problems such as depression and anxiety
Debilitating effect of epilepsy
Working with patients from all around Perth, I often hear about the debilitating effect of epilepsy as a condition:
A seizure behind the wheel seriously impairs your ability to control a vehicle and can result in serious consequences. Injury being the most serious one, whether you get injured yourself or you injure someone else. I also understand that losing your driver’s licence, even because of a minor traffic incident, can have a huge impact on your life, especially aspects such as getting to and from work, maintaining social contact, independence and accessing everyday needs. I will work with you to aim for optimal seizure control and that will allow you to obtain or regain your driver’s licence. In most cases, you have to be seizure-free for at least 6 to 12 months. For commercial driving standard, the required period of seizure freedom is much longer.
- Impact on work and your daily life:
Having seizures may make it difficult to find a job or to do certain types of work such as operating heavy machinery, or working at heights. If you cannot drive because of seizures, getting to work can be problematic, especially if your job depends on being able to drive. Epilepsy may also have an impact on your choice of recreational activities such as scuba diving, rock climbing, mountain climbing, skydiving and hang gliding. These sporting activities require full concentration and any impairment of consciousness may lead to serious injury. At my neurology practice in Perth, I advise my patients that the majority of people with epilepsy can actually lead a normal life, if their seizures are well controlled, apart from certain restrictions in their vocational and recreational activities such as those mentioned above.
Pregnancy is often a cause of concern for women with epilepsy. I inform my patients that having epilepsy or being on anti-epileptic medications is rarely a reason for not having children. Some forms of epilepsy can be inherited, but even then the chance of the baby having epilepsy is small. I will discuss the most appropriate anti-epileptic medication for your pregnancy with you, and whether it is appropriate for you to cease medications. Medications should not be ceased without consulting a doctor. Ideally, your epilepsy should be well controlled prior to starting a family.
Epilepsy Specialist Perth
What to expect when seeing an epilepsy specialist?
During your first epilepsy consultation in my neurological practice at Mount Lawley Perth, I will review your symptoms and your medical history, and I will perform a neurological examination.
I will also order some tests to diagnose epilepsy and determine the cause of seizures. Initially these may include:
- Blood tests - to check for signs of infections, metabolic conditions or other conditions that may be associated with seizures.
- EEG - this is the most common test used to diagnose epilepsy. Electrodes are attached to your scalp to record the electrical activity of your brain.
- Cranial MRI - to detect lesions or abnormalities in your brain that could be causing seizures.
- Other tests such as sleep-deprived EEG, SPECT and PET scans may be done at a later stage depending on the complexity of your case.
Following your epilepsy specialist consultation, I will provide you with answers to some of the essential questions that you may have:
- What type of epilepsy / seizure you have.
- How epilepsy will or could affect your overall health.
- What the treatment consists of, and what it will do.
- How epilepsy will affect your daily life and activities.
- What safety precautions you should put in place.
Why I chose to become an epilepsy specialist
Patients often ask me why I specialised in this field. I would say that for me, it is all about improving the quality of life. When I look at the occurrence of epilepsy (affecting about one person in 200), I see how it really affects people’s lives.