Oct. 18, 2004 A recent study published in Epilepsia, the official journal of the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE), indicates that people who have uncontrolled seizures on the left side of their brains are more likely to have learning disabilities, in comparison to people who have seizures on the right side of their brains. Epilepsy, a neurological disorder associated with recurrent seizures, affects 0.5% to 1% of the population. In theU.S., about 2.5 million people have this disorder and about 9% of Americans will have at least one seizure during their lives.
In the study conducted at the LSU Epilepsy Center of Excellence, adult patients of normal intelligence with either left temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) or right TLE were evaluated with reading comprehension, written language, and calculation tests. The Center researchers found that 75% of patients with left TLE had one or more learning disabilities. This was found in only 10% of those with right TLE. Additionally, those with left TLE reported higher rates of literacy and/or career development problems, such as a history of special education, repeating grades, or disrupted educational progress.
According to author Grant Butterbaugh, Ph.D., Director of the LSU Epilepsy Center's Neuropsychology Program, and his colleagues, left temporal lobe seizure onset was associated with higher risk of learning disabilities, consistent with the disruptive impact of medically well treated but uncontrolled seizures in the "language dominant" side of the brain.
The ILAE estimates that approximately 6 in every 1000 young people have epilepsy, with 80% attending mainstream schools and colleges. While the impact of each person's epilepsy is unique, these results are important because they highlight the potential needs of people with both temporal lobe epilepsy and learning disabilities for early educational intervention and reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
About the Author
Grant Butterbaugh, PhD is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Epilepsy Center of Excellence, where he serves as Director of Neuropsychology and Research on the social-emotional and cognitive impact of epilepsy. He has co-authored professional articles and presentations on the impact of various neuropsychological and psychological disorders on life span learning and other developmental issues.
Epilepsia is the leading, most authoritative source for current clinical and research results on all aspects of epilepsy. As the journal of the International League Against Epilepsy, Epilepsia presents subscribers with scientific evidence and clinical methodology in: clinical neurology, neurophysiology, molecular biology, neuroimaging, neurochemistry, neurosurgery, pharmacology, neuroepidemiology, and therapeutic trials. Each monthly issue features original peer reviewed articles, progress in epilepsy research, brief communications, editorial commentaries, special supplements, meeting reports, book reviews, and announcements.
About the International League Against Epilepsy
The International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) was founded in Budapest in September 1909. It has branches now in 92 countries and over 15,000 members. It is a non-profit and non-governmental association, with official links with the World Health Organization and the International Bureau for Epilepsy. It is the world's preeminent association of physicians and other health professionals working towards a world where no persons' life is limited by Epilepsy. Its mission is to provide the highest quality of care and well-being for those afflicted with the condition and other related seizure disorders. For information on epilepsy and education, please visit www.ilae.org for a patient brochure under the "resources" link.
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