Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

Epilepsy Information 2012

Temporal Lobe Epilepsy

Temporal lobe epilepsy, also known as focal epilepsy, is a medical condition characterized by seizures emanating from the frontal lobe of the brain. The temporal lobe is vital towards processing emotion, sensory input, as well as retention of short-term memory. Aside from the seizures, one of the most common symptoms of temporal lobe epilepsy is that patients experience weird emotions including, but not limited to, extreme joy, fear, or a complete loss of one’s fight-or-flight reaction. It is an important sub-section in the study of epilepsy because it encompasses over 40 known specific epilepsy conditions.

The seizures associated with temporal lobe epilepsy can be categorized into three basic classes:

1. Simple Partial Seizures. In medical terminology, simple partial seizures are involuntary muscle movements of selected parts of the body that do not alter overall consciousness but are significantly noticeable to the extent that they can cause the patient to react in fear because they do not understand what is happening. Common examples include arm or leg twitching, paralysis, or a slight change in biomechanics like leaning the head to one side or crooked arms which goes away after a short period. These symptoms tell doctors exactly which region of the brain the temporal lobe epilepsy is originating from and can provide vital clues towards diagnosis and the development of an effective treatment plan.

2. Complex Partial Seizures. In contrast, complex partial seizures involve violent movements that lead to alteration of consciousness. Patients with complex partial seizures oftentimes do not remember the events before, during and shortly after the episode. This is the more common form of seizure and involves full body movement with all muscular systems misfiring at once. In rare cases, it can also cause the complete opposite effect including patients staring blankly, stiffness or absence of movement. This tells doctors that there is no localized region causing the seizures and is indicative of a more serious condition that will require more diagnostic tests before the treatment plan can be devised.

3. Mixed Region Seizures. This happens when temporal lobe epilepsy propagates across the other areas of the brain resulting in serious convulsion episodes. These are the most complicated forms of seizures requiring long hours of observation and tests before the cause can be ascertained.

Medication and therapy are the known treatment options for temporal lobe epilepsy. However, a large portion of the treatment hinges on the doctor’s ability to find the underlying cause of the temporal lobe epilepsy. If this is not achieved, healing and recovery can still be achieved but in most cases it can’t be done within a short period.

In the worst cases, surgery will be prescribed to remove structural abnormalities that are causing the seizures. Traumatic accidents, birth defects, or sporting injuries can all lead to structural brain damage which can beget temporal lobe epilepsy. While doctors strive to avoid this because of the complexities and risks associated with the procedure, there are cases when it remains to be the final option for treatment.

Temporal lobe epilepsy is a serious condition but it does have its share of treatment options. Immediately seek the opinion of a doctor if you suspect that someone has temporal lobe epilepsy so this can be diagnosed in the fastest manner possible.