Epilepsy Center

Epilepsy is a disorder that can cause seizures (abnormal electrical activity in the brain). Epilepsy can be caused by many things, including brain injury or family history. Most forms of epilepsy can be treated without surgery. The earlier epilepsy is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome.

Your epilepsy team will guide you through the entire process, from diagnosis to evaluation to treatment. If you do have epilepsy, we can help you control your seizures with medicine, diet, surgery, or a combination of these.

We treat both children and adults. We work closely with team members in Neurology and Neurosurgery.

You can get involved in our clinical trials if you and your doctor determine that it would be useful for you.

The only Level 4 Epilepsy Center in New Hampshire

NAEC Level 4 Epilepsy Center badge

The Epilepsy Center at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center is accredited as a level 4 epilepsy center, as designated 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 patients with complex epilepsy.

About seizures

A seizure is a sudden change in behavior due to an excess of electrical activity in the brain. There are many types of seizures, ranging from staring spells to twitching to loss of consciousness. Seizures can last seconds or minutes.

Others may not notice that you are having a seizure. No matter how serious your seizure is, if it is your first, you should seek emergency medical help immediately to determine if there is an obvious cause.

Having a seizure doesn't necessarily mean you have epilepsy. Given particular conditions (such as exposure to certain drugs, high fever, or electrical stimulation), anyone can have a seizure. That's why it's important to have a thorough evaluation that lets your doctors pinpoint where the seizures are happening and what might be causing them.

To provide you with helpful health information related to seizures, please refer to the following articles on our Healthwise® Health Encyclopedia website:

  • Absence seizure (petit mal): A short lack of consciousness, occurring most often in those under 20 years of age
  • Fever (febrile) seizure: A fever-related seizure. A child can have a fever seizure if he or she has a fever, and no other underlying cause.
  • Focal (partial) seizure: A seizure that only starts at a specific location within the brain. More of the brain may become affected during the seizure.
  • Generalized tonic-clonic seizure (grand mal): A seizure that involves the entire body and can include muscle rigidity and contractions, and loss of consciousness
  • Temporal lobe seizure: A seizure that involves portions of the brain that control emotions and memories. Seizures in this area may begin with intense feelings, memories, or other senses.

About epilepsy

Epilepsy is a condition that causes repeated seizures. Epilepsy has many causes, although in many cases a cause cannot be determined. Epilepsy can be caused by injury, brain infection, stroke, tumor, family history of epilepsy, or other factors.

Because so many issues come into play, it's very important for you to keep track of when you have seizures and what factors may have led to them.

You may find that one treatment no longer works as well as it used to, perhaps because of pregnancy, insomnia, medications, or other issues. It is important to keep in touch with your doctor about your health.

Learn about our epilepsy treatments and services.