Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at Valley Baptist Neuroscience Institute
If you suspect you might be dealing with epilepsy, you are not alone. In fact, you are in the company of 2.4 million other adults and children, along with another 150,000 who are newly diagnosed each year.
The Epilepsy Monitoring Unit at Valley Baptist Medical Center- Harlingen specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy. Our trained medical, nursing and technical staff not only evaluates seizure disorders, but can also help create your individualized and comprehensive treatment plan to reduce or may eliminate your seizure activity. In other words, they can help you get back to leading a full and active life. The admission process begins when your doctor decides that prolonged video-EEG monitoring would be useful in evaluating your seizures or epilepsy. You will be scheduled for an admission on a particular date.
What is Epilepsy?
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which the nerve cells in your brain are disturbed, causing two or more unprovoked seizures which can vary from unnoticeable changes in mental state to convulsing fits. A seizure occurs when brain cells that control body functions generate abnormal or excessive electrical discharges. Anyone can develop epilepsy. Epilepsy affects both males and females of all races, ethnic backgrounds and ages.
Red flags for epilepsy
Have you experienced a time of involuntary change in body movement, function, sensation, awareness or behavior?
Maybe you’ve had episodes that caused you to fall to the ground and shake, unaware of what is happening around you?
Have loved ones told you they have noticed moments when you seem confused or like you’re looking at something that isn’t there?
All of these things are possible indications of epilepsy or epilepsy syndromes, and if you experience them, you should talk with your doctor about getting evaluated.
Some people may be more genetically predisposed to epilepsy. Others might develop the seizure disorder after experiencing a brain injury. In most patients, though, the cause of the epilepsy remains a mystery.
What we do know is this: Epileptic seizures are caused by disturbances in the brain’s electrical activity, and most patients have already had at least two unprovoked seizures before they are diagnosed. So, we also know that an accurate diagnosis of epilepsy – and what specific type – is a critical first step.
High Tech Evaluation for Individualized Epilepsy Treatment
Epilepsy, seizures and seizure-like disorders can be challenging to treat. Every person with seizures is different, and the best treatment may include medication, stimulation techniques, diets or surgical procedures. Identifying the most appropriate treatment plan for you or your family member starts with a thorough evaluation and diagnosis. The specialty trained Neurologists on our medical staff utilize the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit to admit patients suffering from epilepsy to continuously monitoring brain activity using EEG and video for an extended period of time. This gives the physician a better understanding of the seizures by seeing how the brain is functioning and what the patient is physically doing during a seizure event. Because this study is performed in a controlled setting, the physician can lower or stop the patient’s seizure medication to increase chances of recording seizures during the study. The EMU is equipped with computer-based monitoring equipment expressly designed for the evaluation of seizure disorders allowing the EMU team to gather data before a seizure starts, while one is occurring and during recovery.
This approach can provide answers about your seizures’ characteristics and help doctors identify the type(s) of seizures and other clues that can shape your treatment. Epileptic patients can have more than one type of seizure and the seizures can range in severity; it may even be difficult to determine when you are having a seizure. Our staff will monitor the frequency and location of seizure activity in your brain, as well as the duration of each incident and its effect on your body.
- Two dedicated private rooms
- 24-hour access to a specialty trained physicians
- 24-hour monitoring by a qualified EEG technician
- The ability to quickly identify your seizure activity, type of seizure, and the location of onset
- Appropriately placed cushioning devices for your protection
- Advanced video recording
- A comfortable environment for you and your visitors.
For more information on the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, please call us at
You will be cared for by a number of different staff during your stay in the monitoring unit. Feel free to ask questions of any of us.
Epileptologists: Board-certified neurologists with subspecialty training in epilepsy, known as epileptologists, are in charge of your medical care. They will order your medications and interpret the results of your video-EEG recordings. The epileptologist will be in close contact with the hospitalist who will be attending to you on a daily basis. The hospitalists rotate coverage, so the doctors you see may change during your admission. Regardless, the doctor on duty always is in close contact with the epileptologist in charge of your overall care.
Nurses: Our nursing staff consists of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, and patient care nursing assistants specializing in epilepsy care. They have primary responsibility for the daily care of patients and for managing the units. They can answer questions not only about what to expect during your stay in the unit, but also about epilepsy in general.
EEG technologists: Our EEG technologists are responsible for obtaining accurate recordings and videos. The EEG technologists can answer technical questions about your recordings or direct your questions to the proper person. The EMU is overseen by a central monitoring unit which serves as a live control center, with staff remotely monitoring patients 24/7 via a TV monitor to enhance the care and safety of our patients. Highly trained EEG staff provide timely feedback to the nurses and caretakers in our EMU.
Arriving at the EMU
On the day and time of your appointment, you will check in at The Valley Baptist Medical Center- Harlingen’s South Tower. Once you arrive, you will be escorted to the EMU located on the 2nd floor of the West Tower. Each EMU patient has a private room with a television and bathroom with a toilet, sink and shower.