In the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, we evaluate children who may be experiencing seizures, as well as children who have been previously diagnosed with epilepsy. The evaluation is conducted by continuous monitoring with both electroencephalogram (EEG) testing and video/audio recording.
Each of the rooms in the EMU is fully equipped with state-of-the-art EEG equipment, video monitors and intercoms to allow for immediate communication with the EMU’s technologists and nurses. Each child monitored in the EMU remains in a private room with a family member for several days. During that time, the electrical activity of the child’s brain is monitored continuously by a staff of nurses, technicians and physicians who are experts in epilepsy and dedicated to each child’s personal care and comfort.
Neurologists can make a much stronger conclusion about whether a patient is having seizures—and what type(s) of seizures—if an EEG is recording the brain’s electrical activity when a seizure actually occurs. A conventional EEG lasts 45 minutes to a few hours—usually only long enough to capture snapshots of electrical activity. That’s helpful information, but not as good as capturing an actual seizure. The EMU enables us to monitor children via EEG and video recording for several days, which greatly increases the chance that we will be able to capture a seizure on EEG and video.
The EMU Team
Kennedy Krieger’s interdisciplinary EMU team consists of many specialists, which may include:
- Board-certified neurologists with additional board certification in epilepsy or neurophysiology
- Pediatric hospitalist
- Registered EEG technologists
- Residents in pediatrics, neurology or physical medicine and rehabilitation
- Nurse practitioner
- Social workers
- Child life specialists
- Behavioral psychologists
What to Expect During Your Stay in the EMU
You will be able to stay with your child in your child’s private room for the duration of your child’s stay in our EMU. Once your child has been admitted to the EMU, an EEG technologist will apply recording wires to your child’s scalp. This will only take a short period of time, but your child must remain still and in a flat position so the wires will be successfully and accurately applied. The wires are long, so once they are applied, your child will be able to move around the room.
Our EEG technologists have special training in applying electrodes and head dressings to children and are focused on children with communication and behavioral challenges. They are experts in making the process comfortable and successful. We also work closely with our child life specialists to make your child as at ease as possible.
EEG data will be recorded continuously during your child’s stay, and our EEG technologists will be watching this data throughout the day and night. Your room will be continuously monitored by video linked to the EEG, so the team can compare your child’s brain waves to their behavior and movements. Please note the location of the camera in your room. If your child has an episode of unusual movements or a seizure, it is very important to avoid blocking the camera, so we can see your child clearly on video.
The team will review the EEG data daily. Our neurologists will visit with you and your child each day to discuss with you the data being collected, as well as next steps. Our pediatric hospitalist team will also visit with you each day to ensure that your child’s other medical needs are met.
Once your child’s stay in the EMU is complete, your child will be discharged. Any follow-up care will be scheduled at that time.