Assembling Your Healthcare Team

Since symptoms of seizures can easily be confused with other medical and neurological problems, it's important to see your general doctor first to check your overall health and all possible causes of your symptoms. If seizures are suspected, a neurologist should be seen to diagnose the problem and recommend treatment.

Take notes of your history and descriptions of the events or seizures to all appointments. Include details of what happens during an event, when it occurs, how long it lasts, and if any specific triggers or patterns were present. Your doctor will want to review this information, learn more about your medical history, and ask for testing.

If seizures continue despite treatment, or if someone is having bothersome side effects of treatment, neurologists who specialize in treating epilepsy should be consulted. These doctors, called epileptologists, may recommend more testing to answer these questions:

  • Is the diagnosis correct?
  • What type of seizures are they?
  • What is causing the seizures?
  • Are there other medicines that would work better?
  • Are there other treatments, such as surgery, dietary therapy, or devices that could help control seizures?

Some epilepsy doctors (epileptologists) may be in private practice, while others may work in groups. You may be referred to many different health care professionals along the way, depending on how the seizures are affecting your life and where you receive your care.

A Comprehensive Epilepsy Center is a group of professionals, led by an epileptologist, who are focused on treating people with seizures and epilepsy. The center should include other health care professionals who can help diagnose and treat specific problems you may be having, offer non-drug treatments; help you learn about your epilepsy and treatment, and cope with how epilepsy affects you and your family.

Professionals found at epilepsy centers may include: epilepsy nurses, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, pharmacists, dieticians, and neurosurgeons in addition to their epileptologist.

How do I keep track of who is involved in my care?

To help you keep track of who you are seeing and why, download the following form and visit the Toolbox section of this website for additional communication tools and forms.

Use this to help you organize your health care team and let others know who you are seeing as well. Your health care team may include organizations or professionals in the community, in addition to medical personnel - whoever helps you and your family.

Your Healthcare Team

Your healthcare team may include one or more of the following providers:

  • Epileptologists- doctors trained in neurology (disorders of the brain) and have additional training in diagnosing and treating people with epilepsy
  • EEG technologist- performs electroencephalogram (EEG) tests and assists patients and doctors
  • Neurosurgeons- surgeons specializing in treating brain and spinal cord disorders
  • Neuroradiologists- doctors trained in radiology, specializing in creating and interpreting pictures of the brain and spinal cord
  • Neuropsychologist- specializes in the relationship between the central nervous system (the brain or spinal cord) and mental functions
  • Nurses- assists in all aspects of patient care, and includes nurse-clinicians and nurse practitioners
  • Pharmacists- fills prescriptions and provides expert information about medications
  • Physician assistants- assists physicians in several functions
  • Social workers- plays a varied role, such as educating patients and families, provides community support and resources, helps in crisis situations and more
  • Counselors- provides counseling support to support mental health, including help with social and personal issues and concerns
  • Doctor- evaluates a person’s medical history and current symptoms, creates, and manages treatment plans, and more
  • Psychiatrists- helps manage mental and emotional health, including depression, anxiety, and psychosis
  • Psychologists- provides mental and emotional health support through behavioral strategies, constructive outlets, and more
  • Rehabilitation therapists- includes occupational, physical, and speech therapists to help with rehabilitation
  • Vocational rehabilitation counselors- helps people with epilepsy obtain skills needed for employment

For more information:

Authored By:

Joseph I. Sirven MD
Patty Obsorne Shafer RN, MN
Steven C. Schachter, MD

on Monday, August 05, 2013

Reviewed By:

Joseph I. Sirven MD / Patricia O. Shafer RN, MN

on Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Resources

Epilepsy Centers

Epilepsy centers provide you with a team of specialists to help you diagnose your epilepsy and explore treatment options.

Epilepsy Medication

Find in-depth information on anti-seizure medications so you know what to ask your doctor.

Epilepsy and Seizures 24/7 Helpline

Call our Epilepsy and Seizures 24/7 Helpline and talk with an epilepsy information specialist or submit a question online.

Tools & Forms

Download our seizure tracking app, print out seizure action plans, or explore other educational materials.

Find an Epilepsy Specialist

Ready for help? Find an Epilepsy specialist who can help guide you through your epilepsy journey.