EEG for Head Injuries and Concussions

In our last post we explored the uses of EEG in assessing seizure activity, however, another common use of EEG testing is for concussions and other brain injuries. Our neurologists at Neurology of Charleston are experienced with treating these conditions as well as headaches, migraines, dizziness, or memory loss that may come as side effects with the injury. For these patients, MRI and EEG will often be one of the first methods used to gain additional information on the state of the injury.

After a person experiences some sort of head trauma, it is important to specifically locate the area of damage and track this impact throughout the healing process. The EEG test is able to evaluate damage to various areas of brain processing through 25-30 electrodes that are placed and categorized by region of the brain. Depending on the region that has sustained damage and the functioning that region controls, patient symptoms and implications can differ. That being said, EEG is not generally used to diagnose a condition on its own, but rather as a follow-up method for additional detail on the effects of an injury.

After a head injury, it can be critical to analyze the situation quickly. While many providers offering EEG have month-long wait lists for this procedure, Neurology of Charleston prides ourselves on providing rapid appointment availability. Taking advantage of the information provided by EEG can make the healing process more productive by getting straight to the point of distress for a particular patient’s injury. This contributes to the better understanding of a condition and improved recommendations for treatment.

EEG for Epilepsy and Other Seizure Disorders

In our last blog post, we went over what an EEG test is and why a patient might opt for this treatment. As we mentioned, one of the greatest uses for EEG is epilepsy and seizures. Since seizures stem from abnormal nerve cell activity in the brain, using EEG to track these patterns can give very valuable insight into causes and controls over the condition.

With the addition of our newest provider, Dr. Patricia Meyers, we have gained an invaluable asset in treatment methods in this area. Dr. Meyers completed her neurology degree with a special interest in epilepsy. This expertise was further refined during a fellowship she completed in neurophysiology, including EEG. By analyzing EEG results, Dr. Meyers can determine whether epilepsy is the likely cause of seizures or what possible factors contribute to episodes.

The results of an EEG essentially monitor the attempted communications between brain cells called neurones. These interactions of impulses between the neurones are used to control and support bodily function. Although it is impossible to track activity of individual neurones because of how small both they and the charge they give off is, EEG makes it possible to track brain function across various areas of the brain. However, there is no typical reading produced by all seizures during an EEG as they just show up as disruption from normal brain activity. Similarly, the types of activity that alarming in children varies from that which is considered abnormal in adults. For this reason the experience of a seizure during the test can provide valuable data for diagnosis and therefore some tests are run for up to 72 hours with a portable device.

EEGs are an important tool for working to treat epilepsy and seizures. By understanding a patient’s individual condition and areas of concern, productive control parameters can be better put in place. We are lucky to have Dr. Meyer’s on our team treating both adolescents and adults in this area.

About Electroencephalography (EEG)

What is an EEG?

EEG, not to be confused with EMG (see previous blog post), is a test used to monitor and analyze function of the brain. Short for Electroencephalography, the test works by tracking electrical activity in the brain through a series of small electrodes that are placed on the scalp. While an EMG looks at general nerve function, EEG looks specifically at the nervous function of the brain.

When should you get one?

EEGs are typically used as a supplementary method of gathering information on a condition. They can be ordered by your general provider or used as a second step after imaging methods such as MRI, CT, or PET scans have detected abnormality. By providing in-depth data on an individual’s current brain function, EEGs can aid in diagnosis, monitoring, and the making of decisions on treatment methods for a condition. EEG is most commonly used for issues such as seizures, concussions, memory loss, Vertigo, and even headaches.

What to expect:

EEGs are a non-invasive procedure and do not require any sedation. When you schedule an appointment, you will be asked to wash your hair the night before and not use any creams or conditioners so the electrodes will be better able to stay in place. During the test, you will sit and be monitored by the physician, who in some cases may ask questions or flash a light to stimulate activity. Most tests last around an hour, however some versions (ambulatory EEG) can go up to 72 hours. In this case, your activity would be tracked outside of the office with a portable device.

Once the test has been run, the physician “prunes” the data for abnormalities, analyzes the results, and provides conclusions or suggestions of next steps.

Welcome Dr. Patricia Myers!

Neurology Specialists is proud to announce the addition of Patricia Myers, MD to our team!

An Alabama native, Patricia Myers MD is a general neurologist with sub-specialty interest in epilepsy.

Dr. Myers received her medical degree from The University of South Alabama and completed both her Internal Medicine and Neurology Residencies at the Medical University of South Carolina. During her fellowship year at MUSC, Dr. Myers completed a Neurophysiology Fellowship.

Dr. Myers is now accepting new patients in Charleston and Columbia locations.  Request your appointment or call 843-410-0924 to schedule.

Understanding EMGs

What is an EMG?

A nerve in the body works somewhat like an electrical wire in your house.  To make sure the wire is functioning properly, an electrician may test the wire with a series of electrical currents.  Failure of the electrical current to go through test helps identify failures in the circuits or connectivity.

Similar to testing electrical wires in your house, an Electromyography (EMG) is a diagnostic procedure to assess the health of muscles and the nerve cells that control them (motor neurons).  Motor neurons transmit electrical signals that cause muscles to contract. An EMG translates these signals into graphs, sounds or numerical values that a specialist interprets.

Why is an EMG ordered?

Your doctor may perform an EMG if you’re experiencing symptoms that may indicate a muscle or nerve disorder.  These symptoms may include tingling, numbness, muscle weakness, muscle pain or cramping, paralysis, involuntary muscle twitching (or tics).  It also helps to discover how severe the condition is and how a nerve is responding to injury or to treatment.