Epilepsy

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What to expect

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a general term used for a group of disorders that result in disturbances in electrical signalling in the brain. Epilepsy has been defined as the tendency to have recurrent seizures, also known as fits.

Speech and language therapy is very beneficial in helping to support, manage and improve and speech, language, communication or swallowing difficulties which are related to the childs Epilepsy.

What is Epilepsy?

The World Health Organisation describes an epileptic seizure as a loss of brain function to all or part of the brain. This loss of function is caused by excessive electrical activity within the brain and can cause a temporary loss of sensory, physical or other functions.

If the loss of function occurs in parts of the brain which are responsible for speech, language and communication this can lead to difficulties in understanding and using language effectively. The types of speech, language and communication difficulties experienced will vary in type and severity for each individual.

Some types of Epilepsy can cause speech, language and communication difficulties. Epilepsy can also be linked to behavioural difficulties.

Epilepsy syndromes which are associated with speech, language and communication difficulties include:

Landau Kleffner Syndrome

Landau kleffner Syndrome (LKS) is an epileptic condition related to age. Its main characteristics include loss of speech and language skills with seizures. These speech and language skills may improve in time, however many individuals continue to experience speech and language difficulties in adulthood. LSK normally occurs before the age of 6 and is more common in boys than girls.

Landau Kleffner Syndrome causes difficulties in the understanding and production of words. Difficulties occur when the individual is not able to understand conversations or recognise voices, this has been referred to as verbal auditory agnosia. Children may additionally have difficulties with expressive language and behaviour.

The severity of the childs difficulties will vary over time. Epileptic seizures are usually infrequent in children with LSK and respond well to treatment. Although the seizures can be well controlled, any speech and language difficulties will need on going treatment from a speech and language therapist.

Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

Temporal lobe Epilepsy occurs in around 60% of individuals with Epilepsy. Two different types of Temporal lobe epilepsy can occur; one in the medial part of the temporal lobe, the second is known as neocortical temporal lobe epilepsy involving the outer structures of the temporal lobe. Medial temporal lobe epilepsy is the more common of the two. Temporal lobe epilepsy may cause difficulties in speech, language and communication.

Lennox Gastaut Syndrome

Lennox Gastaut Syndrome is a rare type of Epilepsy which occurs in approximately one-five in every 100 children with Epilepsy. This type of Epilepsy is one of the most difficult to treat and commonly starts between the ages of three and five.

The most common type of seizures which occur in Lennox Gastaut Syndrome are atonic seizure, also known as drop attacks which usually occur several times a day, and can cause injuries to the child.

The child may also experience absence seizures which usually last for approximately ten seconds to several minutes. These types of seizures can cause difficulties in speech, language and feeding.

All children with Lennox Gastaut Syndrome will have learning difficulties which will vary in severity and may also have general developmental delay.

What problems caused by Epilepsy can speech and language therapy help with?

Speech and language therapy can help with any speech, language, communication and / eating and drinking difficulties associated with Epilepsy. Common problems which speech and language therapy can help with include:

What causes Epilepsy?

There are many causes of Epilepsy. Any disruption to the brain can cause Epileptic seizures. The three main categories of Epilepsy include:

  • Idiopathic epilepsy: this is where no apparent cause for the epilepsy can be found.
  • Symptomatic epilepsy: this is where the cause of the epilepsy is known and is usually the result of a head injury.
  • Cryptogenic Epilepsy : there is no apparent cause for this epilepsy, however research strongly suggests it is the result of brain damage which may also cause learning difficulties.
  • How is Epilepsy diagnosed?

    A diagnosis of Epilepsy will be made by a medical professional e.g. a neurologist. Various tests and assessments will be carried out in order to identify if an individual has Epilepsy. Specialist tests will include an electroencephalogram (EEG) and a brain scan also known as a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI). A diagnosis of Epilepsy will not be made until an individual has had at least two seizures.

    Diagnosing Epilepsy can be difficult due to similar symptoms in other conditions e.g. migraines.

    How does speech and language therapy help children with Epilepsy?

    Speech and language therapy can help to improve, develop and support any speech, language, communication or swallowing difficulties experienced by individuals with Epilepsy. Some Epileptic conditions can result in temporary or long-term difficulties with speech, language and communication. It is the role of the speech and language therapist to assess and treat any speech, language or communication difficulties. The speech and language therapist will also help the childs parents / carers and other professionals involved in their care.

    What would speech and language therapy treatment for a child with Epilepsy involve?

    Speech and language therapy will involve a variety of treatment options for children with Epilepsy. The type of treatment chosen will depend on the type and severity of speech, language, communication and swallowing difficulties associated with the childs epilepsy.

    Speech and language therapy will often be involved in supporting any learning difficulties experienced by children with Epilepsy.

    The speech and language therapist will carry out an initial assessment which will evaluate any speech, language, communication and swallowing difficulties the child with Epilepsy might have. An initial assessment will determine the type and severity of the childs difficulties and also help the therapist to decide on what the most appropriate treatment option will be.

    The Speech and language therapist will devise and individualised treatment plan which will be tailored to the childs specific needs and abilities.

    Treatment will include some or all of the following:

    How do I arrange a speech and language therapy assessment?

    To arrange an assessment with one our speech and language therapists please email office@slt.co.uk or call 0330 0885 643.

    Summary

    Epilepsy is a general term used for a group of disorders that result in disturbances in electrical signalling in the brain. There are some types of Epilepsy which can cause speech, language, communication and swallowing difficulties. Speech and language therapy aims to support, develop and improve any difficulties the child may have in their speech, language, communication or swallowing. The speech and language therapist will work closely with the child, their parent and other professionals involved in their care in helping them to achieve their highest potential from therapy.

    If you feel that our speech and language therapy service would be beneficial and would like to book an appointment with one of our therapists, please email office@slt.co.uk or call 0330 0885 643.


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    To speak to a Speech and Language Therapist or to book an appointment, call us on 0161 883 0111 or email office@slt.co.uk

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