Doctors at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center-Lakeway opened a new center in mid-May to help tackle epilepsy, one of the most common problems in neurology.

The new center is led by Dr. Victor Montoya and Dr. Diego Tovar, two fellowship-trained epileptologists.

"We have a lot of needs in terms of neurological care in our region," Montoya said. "It’s important that we recognize the efforts that the health system has given to step up on the neurological care here."

Zooming in

Affecting 1-2% of people in Texas, epilepsy is a neurological condition that produces abnormal brain activity in individuals, resulting in a number of different side effects, such as hallucinations, deja vu, staring spells and full-body convulsions, Tovar said.

Medications are only successful in treating 70% of patients with epilepsy; the remaining 30% must seek alternative care, which is where the Epilepsy Center comes in, Montoya said.

Under the hospital system’s NeuroHealth Institute umbrella, the center offers four hardwired inpatient epilepsy monitoring unit beds alongside two mobile units. While mobile units are used to monitor seizures, doctors can use hardwired units to classify the type of seizure and develop customized care plans, Tovar and Montoya said.

“Each patient's epileptic condition is different, and therefore the treatment plan should be individualized,” Tovar said.

To be admitted to the center, individuals must be referred from an outpatient clinic. Once treatment plans have been identified, collaboration between inpatient and outpatient centers allows for more comprehensive care, Montoya said.

Looking ahead

It takes around 10 years on average for doctors to determine an epilepsy patient will not respond to medications and must be referred to a specialist for further treatment, Montoya said. The new center aims to decrease that timeframe through education and improved access, Montoya said.

While the ultimate treatment goal for some patients is the elimination of seizures, that’s not realistic for all patients, Tovar and Montoya said. In those cases, the most important factor is improving quality of life.

“I'd like to just highlight the collaboration,” said Michael Weston, regional director of neuroscience and pain management for the NeuroHealth Institute. “That's just part of the NeuroHealth Institute and what we are striving for, which is a high amount of collaboration and integration between the different teams that have to work together to provide the best patient outcome possible.”