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EEG (electroencephalography) monitoring and safety on the Neuroscience Unit

What is an EEG?

An EEG (electroencephalogram) is a special test that is used to record brain waves in order to diagnose seizures or epilepsy.

What is video EEG Monitoring?

Video EEG monitoring is recording your child’s brain waves and video at the same time. This allows us to monitor your child’s brain activity as well as video record any body movement they may have. This helps us understand the correlation between the brain activity and the patient’s body movements.

How is an EEG done?

The EEG test is done by applying various electrodes to the scalp. These electrodes are applied with glue and will remain on the scalp during your entire stay at the hospital. Once the electrodes are applied they will be plugged into a box and placed in a backpack. This backpack will need to remain with your child at all times.

How long does the EEG application take?

The EEG hookup can take approximately one hour, depending on the cooperation your child is. We may wrap them up in a blanket roll to keep them still and use distraction (movies, books, etc.).

Some children may find the process scary at first, but it is not painful. Child life specialists may use using distraction or other activities to help your child be as comfortable as possible.

We cannot use any sedation as it may change the EEG recording results.

The EEG wires may become loose or dislodged and need to be re-glued at times. This can occur during the day or night. It is important for the EEG tech to repair the wire(s) as soon as possible to make sure the recording is accurate.

Can my child take a bath or shower when on EEG?

No, patients can only have a bed bath when on wires. The physician will determine when the EEG recording is finished and when your child is disconnected he/she can have a shower or bath and wash hair.

How is the glue removed?

The electrodes will be removed with a special solution.  Hair can then be washed with any shampoo/conditioner; we have "No More Tangles" to help comb through glue. It may take a few washes to come out. Please let your nurse know if there are any red or open areas on the scalp.  Please remind your child to try not to itch, pull or remove any of the wires.

Will my child always be monitored on camera? 

Your child will be monitored 24 hours a day, except when changing clothes or using the bathroom. An EEG tech is watching the video monitors 24 hours a day. Please push the nurse call light whenever your child has an "event" or seizure. 

An event button may be added to your pack to push at the onset of an event. Please tell your nurse what your child did during the event, the time it occurred and how long it lasted. If your child has an event button in place and a seizure/event occurs, please push the call light and the event button.

We may need to adjust the bed/crib to be able to stay in view of the on camera.

Please stay clear of the camera view of your child as much as possible. Being able to view the child at all times is an important part of the process and diagnosis.

What should we do with the equipment?

The EEG leads will be plugged into a main box and carried with them at all times. EEG will give the child a backpack or tote to keep the equipment in.  Please do not let them drag the pack or let the pack get too far away from their scalp as it may cause damage to the equipment and pull on the scalp.

Please tell staff if you are leaving and your child will be alone in the room. Children may not be left unattended in the playroom. If breastfeeding please tell your nurse if you would like to be on or off camera when feeding occurs.

Can my child come out of the room?

Yes. Your child may sit at the activity tables, play the Nintendo Wii or visit our playroom for a maximum of two hours at a time (from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.). An EEG tech prepares the equipment for this and it may not be available immediately upon request. Only certain EEG staff can disconnect patients. Your child will not be able to leave the unit and should stay on the south end (Epilepsy Monitoring Unit) and in view of the cameras.

If your child is disconnected from the EEG wires we will still monitor on camera. We will watch for events or seizure activity due to medication changes, surgery or other treatments.

Are there any activities the patient may not do?

Gum chewing is not allowed since it may cause artifact on the EEG recording. Also, rocking is discouraged due to movement artifact on EEG.

What kind of tests will we experience while in the hospital?

EEG techs may do some baseline tests such as hyperventilation (rapid breathing) and photic (flashing/strobe lights). These tests are done to help determine diagnosis and treatment plan.

If your child needs to have an MRI while on EEG, we will disconnect and remove the leads before going to the MRI. Your child will need to have his/her hair washed and fully dried prior to testing. The physician will decide if your child will need to have EEG leads reapplied following the MRI.

How will the results be obtained?

A pediatric neurologist or epileptologist (doctor specializing in epilepsy) will review the EEG recording and update you or the team caring for the child of any changes to the plan of care.

Does my child have to wear a helmet?

If your child is at risk of injury we strongly encourage wearing a helmet. We will provide a helmet upon admission or children may use their own. Make sure the helmet is worn anytime your child is out of bed. Examples include standing, walking, getting up to use the bathroom or playing the Wii. The helmet can be removed while sitting or lying in bed.

Tips for maintaining seizure safety in the hospital

Children are at greater risk of injuries with seizures as medication adjustments are being made. Keeping your child safe is our top priority.  Some of the measures include:

  • Helmet use when out of bed
  • Screening patients that are a fall risk
  • Use of padded side rails
  • Wearing adequate fitting clothing (or hospital gowns or pajamas) that are not too tight around the neck and pants that are not too long
  • Using non-skid socks or shoes when up walking
  • Using the communication boards to indicate when additional assistance is needed for getting out of bed

Questions?

This is not specific to your child but provides general information. For questions about why your child is being tested, please ask your child’s nurse or doctor.

Reviewed 2/2016.

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Family Resource Center library, or visit www.childrensmn.org/educationmaterials.

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