An epileptic spasm is one of the widely known disorders affecting human beings. Epileptic spasms can also be referred to as juvenile spasms, west syndrome or infantile spasms. This is a rare epileptic condition that affects infants, children and sometimes adults. It is one of the catastrophic childhood epilepsies this is simply because it is difficult to control seizures and mental retardation.
Epileptic spasms is one the epilepsy syndromes and most enigmatic because of its symptoms and its effects. The syndrome is called “west syndrome” after Dr. William James West. Dr. West described the condition after studying his own four month son in 1841. This is an epilepsy type that affects about one in 2000- 3000 children. In the UK about 350-400 children will develop epileptic spasms. In essence, there is a rich history out there about infantile spasms [IS].
West syndrome starts between 3 and 12 months of age and may stop by the age of 2 to 4 years. This syndrome is quite rare and about 60% of infants affected have some brain injury or disorder before seizures start appearing. For some infants or children is different as they may not have injuries, but the condition may develop normally.
Young children having epileptic spasms usually experienced a number of symptoms. In all cases, infantile spasms occur in the first year of life and the attacks are brief and infrequent. This condition is characterized by epileptic seizures which can be observed as sudden, severe myoclonic convulsions of the entire body , convulsions of the throat and neck flexor muscles and as jackknife attacks or a rapid bending of the head and torso forward. Some children develop autism or develop other kinds of epilepsy.
The key mechanisms that cause epileptic spasms are still unknown. In many cases, it is imagined to be as a result of malfunction of neurotransmitter. More precisely, it is conjectured that Infant spasms is as a result of a malfunction in the regulation of the GABA transmission process. With ever growing number of medical researchers, it is believed that epileptic spasms may be as a result of the Corticotropin-releasing hormone [CRH]. Effects of certain medications administered to young children may also be the core cause of infantile spasms.
The epileptogenic mechanisms or infantile spasms is not well understood, but there are ways through which this condition has been diagnosed or treated. Compared to other types of epilepsy, epileptic spasms is difficult to treat. To increase the chances of successful treatment and be able to take care of any long lasting effects, it is wise to go for early diagnosis. The treatment should also start right away.
Treatment differs from one individual to another and depends on the cause of the West syndrome and the state of the brain development of the young child. Steroid therapy [Adrenocorticotropic hormone [ACTH] injection or prednisone] can help greatly. It is also wise to go for a therapy with Vigabatrin [Sabril], Topamax [topiramate] or Valproate [Depakote] before steroid therapy. Noteworthy, as you seek treatment for epileptic spasms, make sure that you go for an experienced center and deal with professionals as a lot of caution is essential while administering these medications.
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