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Brain Inj. 1990 Oct-Dec;4(4):391-7.

Psychogenic seizures in brain injury: diagnosis, treatment and case study.

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Carolina Neuropsychological Service, Raleigh, NC.


Psychogenic seizures are a functional phenomena in which a person experiences a paroxysmal event that may be interpreted as epileptiform in nature. By definition, psychogenic seizures imply a sudden episode of change in behaviour or psychic state that is not associated with an identifiable process, either vasculogenic or neurogenic, and during which there is an absence of characteristic epileptiform changes on the electroencephalogram. Prevalence rates range from 5% to 50% in outpatient populations seen in epilepsy clinics. However, approximately 20% of true seizure patients also have psychogenic seizures. As psychogenic seizures are not a pathophysiological phenomena, pharmacological interventions do not alter their aetiology and can cloud the cognitive skills necessary to ameliorate the psychogenic seizure behaviour. In non-aphasic true seizure patients, as well as psychogenic seizure patients, self-control relaxation paradigms have been successful where pharmacological intervention has failed. This case involved an aphasic brain-injured patient who had both psychogenic and true seizures. For this patient, the self-control paradigm was modified to include use of gesture and prosody to achieve similar psychotherapeutic effects. Additionally, family therapy was instituted to provide a constructive means for the patient's family to participate in the reduction of psychogenic seizures. As seizures are a common sequelae of brain injury, the differential diagnosis of seizures and knowledge of standard and alternative treatment is essential for rehabilitation professionals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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