What Should I Bring to an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit?

Epilepsy News From: Friday, May 12, 2023

It can be difficult to know what to bring to the epilepsy monitoring unit for your stay. You may not know how many days you’ll be there, so you want to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible throughout your stay. Additionally, you’ll be hooked up to an EEG monitor, so moving around will be a bit difficult. You also may not be able to leave your hospital bed for extended periods of time. Packing what you need, along with some extra items, will help make your stay better.

What Is an Epilepsy Monitoring Unit?

An epilepsy monitoring unit (sometimes called the EMU) is a specialized medical center designed for people who have epilepsy or seizures that are difficult to diagnose or treat. The EMU is typically part of a larger hospital and is staffed by healthcare professionals who have expertise in epilepsy care, including neurologists, epileptologists, EEG technicians, and nurses. 

People are typically admitted to the EMU for a few days to a week. During this time, you will be monitored by EEG and may also have video recording of your seizures. This allows healthcare professionals to gather information about your seizures. This will also help them make a more accurate diagnosis or treatment recommendations for your types of seizures.   

EMUs may also be used to evaluate people who are being considered for epilepsy surgery, as well as to monitor patients who are undergoing medication adjustments or other treatments for their seizures. Overall, the EMU is an important tool in the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy and provides a supportive and safe environment for patients with this condition. 

Packing for Your EMU Stay

Each hospital has different rules for how they run their EMU and what you are and are not allowed to bring along with you. Before you start packing for your EMU stay, make sure to ask your doctor what you can bring with you to make yourself feel more comfortable. To help you prepare for an EMU stay, we have a list of items below to consider taking along with you: 

Comfortable clothing:

It's best to pack some clothes that are easy to change in and out of. Loose-fitting shirts and pants are ideal. Button or zip-up shirts or jackets are a perfect option. Electrodes will be glued to the top of your head, so if you want to wash up without pulling a shirt over your head, buttons and zippers will be the easiest way to do so. Also, hospitals tend to be on the colder side. Make sure to bring layers so you’re not too cold during your stay. 


Most hospitals will offer you toiletries. However, if you prefer certain shampoo, conditioner, soap, or toothpaste, pack it. Make sure not to forget a toothbrush, either! EMUs typically provide towels and washcloths, but you may want to bring your own if you would like. If someone going to the EMU requires diapers or wipes, make sure to pack those as well. The varieties of diapers that some hospitals have for kids or teens who use them may be lacking. 


Be sure to pack any medications you're currently taking, along with a list of dosages and schedules. You’ll likely receive medications from the hospital, especially if they plan on changing your anti-seizure medication schedule while you are in the EMU. If you take other vitamins, or medications for other conditions, let the doctors at the EMU know. 


A stay at the EMU is often a good time to watch a new TV show or one of the latest movies. Bring your laptop, tablet, or smartphone. You can also take books, magazines, puzzles, board games, or anything else to keep yourself occupied between visits from the doctor.  


EMUs usually provide meals, but you may want to bring your own snacks to enjoy between meals or if you get hungry. Make sure you tell the doctor about the snacks you’ve brought, especially if you’re on a special diet like the ketogenic diet. Remember to bring all of your keto-related supplies. For anyone fed through a g-tube, liquid diet mixtures may also need to be packed for the stay. Some hospitals may not have the particular brand of liquid diet mixture that you typically use.  


Pack comfortable sleepwear that's easy to change in and out of. EMUs usually provide hospital gowns, but you may prefer to bring your own pajamas. 

Personal items:

If you have a favorite pillow, stuffed animal, or blanket that makes you feel more at home, bring it! Being in the hospital can sometimes be a bit scary. Nothing is better than snuggling your favorite stuffed animal when you’re not feeling your best.  

In addition, if you are a person with disabilities, require specific equipment, medical devices, or have other needs and are going to an EMU, discuss these with the EMU staff before arrival. 

Who Can Visit You in the EMU?

Every hospital has different rules for visitation at the EMU. Some will allow caregivers or other visitors during normal hospital visiting hours. Other hospitals will allow the caregiver to be with their loved one during the duration of their stay. Some hospitals even have pull-out beds available for a visitor to stay and provide comfort throughout the night. Rules from the hospital may also vary based on the needs of the person with epilepsy. 

There are some things for caregivers and visitors to consider as well. Below are some things to think about ahead of time:

  • Are they able to eat food from the hospital cafeteria, or will they have to pick up food from a restaurant or order delivery? 
  • Will they need toiletries, comfort, and entertainment items packed as well for a long stay? 
  • Are there any specific items the EMU recommends or prohibits for visitors?

Caregivers can talk to EMU staff before your stay to help with arrangements and resolve questions about the EMU.

We wish everyone preparing for a stay at the epilepsy monitoring unit the best possible outcome and better treatment options for their epilepsy.  

If you have additional questions about the EMU or what to pack, we encourage you to connect to our 24/7 Helpline online or by phone at 1-800-332-1000. You can also reach us en español at 1-866-748-8008. 

Authored by

Kaitlyn Gallagher

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