Akila Venkataraman, M.D., a pediatric neurologist at the Lutheran Epilepsy Center, has expanded the neurology services available to children and their families in the community.
"First, we built the pediatric epilepsy monitoring unit," Dr. Venkataraman says. "The unit has been instrumental in diagnosing and developing treatment plans for children with seizure disorders. Over time, I've been able to see patients not only with epilepsy, but also with associated disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder. We're moving toward creating a comprehensive pediatric neurology center where I can diagnose and treat a full range of neurology disorders."
Epilepsy and Autism
Children with autism spectrum disorder have a slightly higher risk of seizures and epilepsy. "As a pediatric neurologist and epileptologist, I can unearth undiagnosed epilepsy in children with autism, as well as undiagnosed autism in children with epilepsy," Dr. Venkataraman says. "Many of the treatments for the conditions overlap, so we're able to take that into account when developing an effective treatment plan for patients."
Although epilepsy and autism spectrum disorder may be treated with medication and other therapies, research shows certain dietary changes can help, too.
"A ketogenic diet is a very low- or zero-carbohydrate diet that's effective in certain children with these conditions," Dr. Venkataraman says. "It's thought that this type of energy source is a lot more calming and can help control seizures in children who are prone to epilepsy or who have autism."
Procedure to Control Seizures
Lutheran neurosurgeons offer a procedure called vagal nerve stimulation, during which a tiny pacemaker-like device is implanted below the skin onto the vagal nerve, located in the neck. The device puts out continuous electric pulsations onto the nerve, which has been shown to help control seizures. The device may be an option for children who have tried several different seizure medications without success or who can't take the medications because of side effects or other health conditions. "It's just as effective as medication, but without any of the side effects," Dr. Venkataraman says.
Click here for more about Lutheran's Epilepsy Center.For more news follow Lutheran HealthCare on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and Foursquare:
Twitter - http://twitter.com/LutheranHC
Facebook - http://facebook.com/LutheranHealthCare
YouTube - http://www.youtube.com/user/LutheranHealthcare
LinkedIn - http://tinyurl.com/mycsas
foursquare - http://foursquare.com/lutheranhc