Epilepsy Prgram Level 4 Center Badge

If your child has epilepsy, don’t feel alone. One out of every 26 people will develop epilepsy at some point in their lifetime — and most new cases are diagnosed in children. That’s one reason Phoenix Children’s Epilepsy Program at Barrow Neurological Institute is here for you and your child. We’re committed to providing the highest-quality care for children with epilepsy.

As the only children’s hospital in Arizona with a level 4 designation, we have extensive training, advanced technology and treatment options that are not widely available. Our main goal is to help your child live free from seizures. 

Our family-centered team of experts includes some of the most highly respected pediatric epilepsy specialists in the country. We use the latest proven technology and techniques, such as laser ablation and responsive neurostimulation, to target seizures at the source.

We strive to provide exceptional care for every child. Our dedication has earned us continuous national rankings by U.S. News & World Report for neurology and neurosurgery. We treat even rare forms of epilepsy, and we have one of the world’s leading programs in research, evaluation and treatment of patients with hypothalamic hamartomas.

Customized Care with the Latest Treatment Options

Navigating your child’s care with newly diagnosed epilepsy can be challenging. Our team will make sure you and your family have the education and support you need. We’ll work with you to create a treatment plan just for your child. 

We are proud to be recognized as the only children’s hospital in Arizona with a  level 4 designation by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers. Level 4 epilepsy centers have the professional expertise and facilities to provide the highest-level medical and surgical evaluation and treatment for those with complex epilepsy. We can provide access to the latest proven and promising treatment options, including:

Your child may also benefit from participating in one of our clinical trials. Your child’s health care team can tell you more.

Hope for Intractable Epilepsy

While more than 65% of children with epilepsy may respond well to medications, approximately one-third of patients may not respond. Epilepsy that will not respond to standard treatments is called medically refractory or intractable epilepsy. 

Based on the severity, children may have difficulty in school, and in the future, may struggle in the workplace. Independence can be restricted with the inability to get a driver’s license, and quality of life may suffer. Any child who has not responded to two or more medications should be referred to a pediatric epilepsy center for evaluation. 

By providing treatment options and customized care plans, we can treat or manage intractable epilepsy so your child can have a safer, healthier life.

Frequently Asked Questions

Epilepsy is a risk of recurrent unprovoked seizures. Many different conditions or syndromes can cause epilepsy.

A seizure is change in brain activity caused by abnormal synchronous electricity in the brain waves. This abnormal electrical activity leads to changes in behavior and physical symptoms, such as convulsions.

Seizures can come in all shapes and forms. The most commonly known seizures include full body stiffening and jerking with alteration of consciousness. Larger convulsive seizures are called generalized tonic-clonic seizures or grand mal seizures. During grand mal seizures, patients may bite their tongue or lose control of their bowel or bladder. However, seizures can also appear as unexplained postures; staring; movements of the mouth, eyes or hands; and changes in breathing patterns. It is important to talk to your neurologist about any symptoms or changes in behavior your child is having to come to an accurate diagnosis.

Talk to your doctor about the next steps. Sometimes an initial evaluation can help determine an underlying cause. But in most cases, no single cause is identified. The first step is anti-seizure medications to help prevent the risk of further seizures.

  • Water safety: No tub baths without direct observation by an adult. Showers only – with door unlocked. No swimming without adult supervision, and a life jacket must be worn at all times when boating or participating in any water activity.
  • Bike or scooter riding, skate boarding, horseback riding: Must wear helmet at all times.
  • Climbing: Nothing higher than 10 feet (ladders, trees). No hanging upside down from jungle gyms or other playground equipment. Avoid having sharp edges in and around your home, and look out for other dangerous home conditions. 
  • Driving: No driving, including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), mini-bikes, four-wheelers, golf carts or any other motorized vehicle unless your healthcare provider has given prior approval. It is illegal to drive in Arizona for three months following an event of altered awareness.
  • Firearms: No hunting or handling of firearms.
  • Burns: Burns are a risk in the kitchen with hot or boiling water or hot oil, and your child may need to avoid these. Burns from hot tap water or shower water are a problem unless water heaters can be set to a safer temperature below 120°Fahrenheit. Devices such as hair curling irons or blow dryers could also increase the risk for burns and should be used with caution.
  • Tools: Power tools, lawn mowers and garden equipment may be dangerous if a person is at risk for seizures. Some hobbies could be dangerous as well. Make sure to assess the risks of a tool or task for your child, and talk to your child’s doctor or neurologist about safe alternatives and activities for your child.

There may be other risks not covered here. Talk to your child’s doctor if you have any specific questions or concerns.

  • Keep calm and reassure other people who may be nearby. 
  • Prevent injury by clearing the area around the person of anything hard or sharp. 
  • Ease the person to the floor and put something soft and flat, like a folded jacket, under his or her head. 
  • Remove eyeglasses and loosen ties or anything around the neck that may make breathing difficult. 
  • Contrary to popular belief, it is not true that a person having a seizure can swallow his tongue. Do not put anything in the person’s mouth. Efforts to hold the tongue down can injure the teeth or jaw. 
  • Turn the person gently onto one side. This will help keep the airway clear. 
  • Do not hold the person down or try to stop his or her movements. 
  • Time the seizure with your watch. If the seizure continues for longer than five minutes without signs of slowing down, call 911.
  • After the seizure, if they have trouble breathing, appear to be injured or in pain, or recovery is unusual in some way, call 911.

Here are a few things you can do to help someone who is having a seizure that appears as blank staring, loss of awareness, involuntary blinking, chewing or other facial movements:

  • Stay calm and speak reassuringly. 
  • Guide him or her away from dangers. 
  • Block access to hazards, but don’t restrain the person. 
  • If the person is agitated, stay a distance away, but close enough to protect him or her until full awareness has returned.

Consider a seizure an emergency, and call 911 if: 

  • The seizure lasts longer than five minutes without signs of slowing down.
  • The person has trouble breathing afterwards, appears to be in pain or recovery is unusual in some way. 
  • The person has another seizure soon after the first one. 
  • The person cannot be awakened after the seizure activity has stopped. 
  • The person became injured during the seizure. 
  • The person becomes aggressive. 
  • The seizure occurs in water. 
  • The person has a health condition like diabetes or heart disease or is pregnant.

Learn more about epilepsy information and resources through the Epilepsy Foundation at epilepsy.com.