Epilepsy and learning disabilities--a challenge for the next millennium?

Seizure. 1998 Feb;7(1):3-13. doi: 10.1016/s1059-1311(98)90002-4.


People with learning disabilities often have seizures in addition to other disorders. Precise diagnosis may be difficult, but accuracy can be improved using electroencephalographic and video investigations. Following the establishment of a diagnosis of epilepsy, individually tailored care is necessary taking into account other health, behavioural and therapeutic issues. Neuroimaging may indicate a need for surgery which should not be automatically excluded as a treatment option. Rational antiepileptic drug use is advised, with emphasis upon the newer agents due to their better tolerance and ease of use. A programme of regular review will prevent over-medicating. Drug therapy may be withdrawn in a seizure-free patient. Realistic goals should be established for each individual coupled with an optimistic approach to care. However, future developments require a solid evidence base combined with rationality in all aspects of management. The community learning disability epilepsy nurse specialist is the key health-care professional who can ensure that a learning disabled individual with epilepsy is able to take full advantage of all available services. Education, closer collaboration and the mutual recognition of skills will ensure more cohesive and comprehensive care for this disadvantaged patient population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticonvulsants / administration & dosage
  • Anticonvulsants / adverse effects
  • Brain / surgery
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Comprehensive Health Care / trends
  • Epilepsy / diagnosis
  • Epilepsy / etiology
  • Epilepsy / rehabilitation*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Learning Disabilities / diagnosis
  • Learning Disabilities / etiology
  • Learning Disabilities / rehabilitation*
  • Patient Care Team / trends


  • Anticonvulsants