When a kid’s in the hospital, little things mean a lot

At Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, we know that dealing with epilepsy can make kids — not to mention parents — a bundle of nerves. Rest assured that when your child comes to Children’s for monitoring or surgery, care and comfort are always our top priorities.

To make things easier, we’ve designed the Karen and George Benz Family Pediatric Neuroscience Center with families like yours in mind. Our spacious private rooms make it easy to stay right at your child’s side. Plus you’ll find a wide array of amenities that foster togetherness, such as a sibling play area and Children’s own in-house TV channel that you can tune in to as a family.

We also strive to provide the little touches, whether it’s tracking down fresh bagels or connecting your iPad to our wireless network. So if you need anything, please ask. If it matters to you or your child, it matters to us.

How’d we land in here?

There are several ways your child might arrive at the epilepsy monitoring program:

  • From the emergency room. The epilepsy team works closely with Children’s emergency department to evaluate and treat seizure emergencies. Some kids are admitted directly from the ER to our neuroscience unit.
  • From another hospital. When your child needs expert seizure care in a hurry, hospitals across the region know Children’s is one of the best. We arrange transfers by ambulance, plane and helicopter to speed kids to the right level of care.
  • From a doctor’s referral. Pediatricians in the Twin Cities and across the country trust Children’s for their patients’ epilepsy care. And many families contact Children’s after hearing about the program from our patients.

Checking into the epilepsy unit

Your doctor might recommend in-hospital epilepsy monitoring for your child on the Lee and Penny Anderson Epilepsy Unit in order to:

  • Record and characterize seizures
  • Provide a safe environment during medication adjustment
  • Pinpoint the part of the brain where the seizure starts
  • Help determine whether your child would benefit from epilepsy surgery

The video EEG monitoring process is designed to measure brain activity while recording your child on video. This shows doctors how your child looks and behaves during seizures and provides a fuller picture of what’s happening inside your child’s brain.

It’s natural to feel nervous about a hospital stay, so take some time to talk with your child beforehand. Younger children might enjoy acting out the procedure by sticking paper “electrodes” and pipe cleaner “wires” to a stuffed animal’s head, for instance.

Before coming to the hospital, wash your child’s hair with shampoo only. Hair should be clean and free of styling products when you arrive. (Teens and tweens take heart: there’s no shaving involved!)

Attaching the electrodes and wires to your child’s head doesn’t hurt, but that doesn’t exactly mean kids love it. The attachment process takes about 45 minutes. Singing, reading aloud and other distractions help the time pass faster.

In your child’s hospital room, the tech will attach the wires to an EEG machine and start the recording equipment. The wires also attach to a battery pack that allows your child to move freely. The tech will show you the “alert” button, which you should push when a seizure begins.

From here on, it’s camera time. The techs record your child eating, sleeping and playing (but not in the bathroom). This can mean a lot of panning and zooming for little ones who love to run!

Length of monitoring varies, but it may take several days. Test results are usually sent to your doctor within two to three weeks.

Surgery prep

If your child needs surgery for epilepsy, Children’s provides a wealth of information to help kids and families prepare for surgery, including pre-surgery tours. To provide patients with a full range of outpatient follow-up care, Children’s works closely with Minnesota Epilepsy Group, a Level 4 epilepsy center — the highest rating by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers.



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