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Video Telemetry Units

When a child has a possible seizure and epilepsy is suspected, it is recommended that a diagnosis should include an EEG test (electroencephalogram). This records the electrical activity in the brain.

In the case of more complex epilepsies, an EEG using a video telemetry unit enables the electrical activity in the brain to be monitored, at the same time recording the child’s movements. The video signal is time locked to the EEG signal, enhancing diagnostic accuracy.

But EEGs for children under five years of age are difficult. Further, older children with complex epilepsy often have challenging behaviour making it impossible to confine the child to a bed for a regular EEG. A more sophisticated system is therefore required to facilitate assessment of a difficult child using video telemetry over a prolonged period, normally three days.

In the UK there is significant under provision of EEG scanners and staff trained to operate such equipment. Until recently, a difficult child with complex epilepsy could only benefit from a three day assessment using video telemetry if the local authority referred them to the medical centre at Young Epilepsy (formerly the National Centre for Young People with Epilepsy - NCYPE) and agreed to fund the cost of the assessment.

However, in 2006 the Muir Maxwell Trust purchased a state of the art video telemetry unit for RHSC, Glasgow, facilitating the assessment of difficult children and children with difficult epilepsy within the NHS. In 2007 the Trust raised funds to purchase a further ten such machines, the latest technology making them wireless. Three of these machines were donated to Young Epilepsy in order to upgrade their service and the remainder were distributed across paediatric epilepsy centres of excellence across the UK.

In addition, the Muir Maxwell Trust has purchased a number of portable EEG units enabling electrical activity in the brain to be recorded at home over a prolonged period.

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