Solving the Mystery of Childhood Epilepsy

2015-0718 Solving the Mystery of Epilepsy

Logan’s mother knew something was amiss that afternoon when he wet his pants while napping beside her on the couch. Her bright and active 5-year-old son hadn’t done that in years! She tried to awaken him but couldn’t, and he lay limp and lifeless in her arms for several minutes as she called 911. He became sick to his stomach in the ambulance and then remained sleepy and confused for several more hours. His mother knew that something significant had happened. The doctors couldn’t be sure, but they suspected Logan had had a seizure.

After a comprehensive evaluation at Cleveland Clinic, it appeared that Logan might not need to take daily medication. Based on the signs and symptoms of his seizures and some very special features on his EEG, his pediatric epilepsy specialist, Dr. Elaine Wyllie, diagnosed Panayiotopoulos syndrome (PS). “Children with PS usually do well in the long run and outgrow their tendency for seizures over time,” Dr. Wyllie says. “Most specialists feel that daily antiepileptic medication is not necessary.”

Logan’s experience reminds us that epilepsy should no longer be considered a strange and mysterious illness. We now know that it is usually an immanently treatable neurological condition. The key to a successful outcome is a full understanding of the epilepsy type and underlying cause. A meticulous history and physical examination, along with an EEG and brain MRI, usually provides a complete picture of the patient’s neurological condition.


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Thanks to Logan and his family for sharing their story;  Elaine Wyllie, M.D. and Ahsan Naduvil, M.D. for writing the article; U.S. News and World Report for committing its resources to the article; Google for helping me find the article; and all the other people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible to include the picture and text in this post.


  1. I’ve just recently been diagnosed with epilepsy by an EEG. I have had this since childhood and my Mother had no clue. I was very sickly as a child and then at 20 had my TBI. I’ve lived an exciting life, sue would say fast, in the past but now at 44 years of age I am being diagnosed with Epilepsy and Frontal Temporal damage. I feel cheated.

    1. Tracy, why do you feel cheated? Had you been diagnosed with epilepsy as a child, you might have been given a barbaric treatment protocol. Now, as an adult, the treatment is significantly better than when you were young. The same is true with me. I could not read well, write, throw or catch a ball as a kid. Had I been diagnosed with brain cancer as a kid, I would probably be dead. I am glad that I was not diagnosed and treated for several decades.

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