What is Epilepsy?


Epilepsy is a neurological condition that affects the nervous system. It’s essentially a misfire in the brain of electrical discharges. When the signals become confusing, the nervous system produces seizures. Epilepsy (in many cases) is a chronic condition that affects up to 1% of people in the United States. UT Physicians board certified pediatric neurologists are leading experts in the care of people living with epilepsy. People living in Houston, Southeast Texas and from around the world are evaluated, treated and cared for in UT Physicians clinics.


Generalized epilepsy means the source of the seizures is occurring throughout the brain. It can’t be pinpointed to the right or left hemisphere. The altered brain function can occur in different places in the brain each time a problem is detected. Generalized epilepsy can produce a wide-range of different types of seizures: tonic-clonic (formerly known as grand mal), absence, myoclonic, clonic, tonic and atonic. Partial (focal) epilepsy is when the abnormal electrical impulses start in a small region of the brain, which is why it is often called focal epilepsy. There is an area of focus in the brain that is creating the activity. With this type of epilepsy, patients remain aware of their surroundings. Often times, that area of the brain may have experienced injury, stroke, developmental delay or even a tumor. Imaging allows neurologists to get a better view of the brain to figure out the possible cause. Juvenile myoclonic epilepsy is the most common general epilepsy syndrome. It typically occurs in adolescence and the cause is typically genetic. Myoclonic seizures are the most common type of seizures with this type of epilepsy.


Symptom can range from mild to severe and depend on the type of seizure and individual person.
  • Staring
  • Uncontrolled jerking motions with limbs often folding inward
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Emotional confusion
  • Aura-people often can feel a sense of dread that something bad is going to happen


Pinpointing a cause for epilepsy is difficult. Often times, no cause is identified. The cause could be genetic (family history), brain tumor, alcohol/substance abuse, brain injury or stroke. A UT Physicians pediatric neurologist will work with you to order testing to identify any potential challenges to customize treatment.