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Intractable Epilepsy

When epilepsy is uncontrolled, it shows the continuous manifestation of an intolerable quantity of seizures despite judicious treatment. The amount of seizures considered intolerable reliant on the patient’s lifestyle, the nature of the seizures and the consequences of such intolerable seizures.

Continuing to experience grand mal or tonic-clonic seizures despite the necessary treatment, otherwise defined as refractory or intractable epilepsy, becomes debility. Life becomes restricted and controlled.

Epilepsy is a common medical condition and it affects more than 45 million people globally. But intractable epilepsy, affects more than 1 million Americans and is often gets possibly worse because its resistant to surgery and drug treatment.

Intractable Epilepsy And Anxiety

Intractable Epilepsy In Children

Intractable epilepsy can have great effect on your life. People with intractable epilepsy often reports having trouble to go at school or work. They may develop anxiety and be a lot anxious thinking about their next seizure. From their seizures attack, they may also have injuries. If your physicians diagnose you with intractable epilepsy, he will definitely suggest you to visit a medical center specialized in the treatment of epilepsy.


The physical consequences of intractable epilepsy can include shortened lifespan and extreme bodily injuries from burns and falls. Though rare, people who have intractable seizures may experience SUDEP (sudden unexplained death in epilepsy). The rates of sudden unexplained death in epilepsy are 5-8 times higher in people with medically intractable seizures. Research and studies shows that refractory seizures can cause severe brain injury such as physiological dysfunction and nerve cell death.

Non-Physical Disabilities

But seizures or convulsions are only part of the problem. In addition to convulsions, people with refractory or intractable epilepsy also suffer from various non-physical disabilities.

Cognitive and emotional difficulties are excessively higher in people with refractory epilepsy. Uncontrollable and repeated seizures in children can interfere with their learning and understanding. For instance, when petit mal seizures or absence seizures – sudden loss of consciousness- occur irrepressibly, the child finds it difficult to learn and understand the instructions given by the teacher.

When refractory epilepsy is followed by seizures, it creates physical difficulties to attend school. The after effect of convulsions includes:

  • Inability to focus (Difficulty to concentrate)
  • Increased tiredness or fatigue

ADD (Attention deficit disorder), behavioral issues and memory shortfall are all seen to happen with a higher occurrence in intractable epilepsy.

Economic And Social Discrimination

Uncontrolled and repeated seizure activities lead to social and economic discrimination. Many adults with intractable epilepsy often are under employed or are unemployed. For most adults, a restriction on driving is a big concern which limits their freedom. People with intractable epilepsy are seldom convulsion free long enough to drive legally, thereby limiting their mobility and independence. This in turn limits their employment opportunities and social communication.

Quality of Life With Intractable Epilepsy

Quality of life is also weakened in refractory epilepsy, and is directly proportional to seizure control. Psychosocial infirmities, including reduced employment opportunities, reduced marriage rates and lower social interaction are more common in adults with intractable epilepsy. In both men and women, hormonal and reproductive disorders are common with uncontrolled seizures. Epilepsy that does not respond well to treatments also becomes a stressor for the caregivers, patient’s family and support system.

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