Companions and witnesses ‘can aid diagnosis of seizures’

Posted May 25 2016 in Diagnosis of epilepsy

According to new research, the diagnosis of seizures can be made easier with the input of people who accompanying patients to doctor’s appointments.

The study, conducted by Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa, in collaboration with Loughborough University and the University of Sheffield, aimed to evaluate the contributions that companions and witnesses to seizures can make to the diagnostic process.

During the investigation, the research team analysed video recordings and transcripts of neurologists’ interactions with both individuals referred to a specialist seizure clinic and their companions.

The findings, published in the medical journal Epilepsy & Behavior, suggest that companions can provide neurologists with additional diagnostic pointers. The researchers note that people with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES), but not those with epilepsy, tended to resist giving information about their seizures, which meant that the views of their companions were particularly important.

However, it was also shown that companions’ input can sometimes the doctor’s ability to identify certain language and behavioural characteristics in the patient that are essential to making a diagnosis.

The research concludes: “To help offset potential diagnostic losses, doctors may need to explicitly discuss the role of the companion in the consultation when a seizure witness – or another companion – accompanies the patient.”

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