Expert: Functional Seizures Can Be ‘Extremely Impairing’ for Patients


Lea Davis, PhD, of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt Genetics Institute, discussed the frequency with which patients may experience functional seizures.

Contemporary Clinic® interviewed Lea Davis, PhD, an associate professor of medicine in the Department of Medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and an investigator in the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute, on a recent study she co-authored that was published in JAMA Network Open on the epidemiology of functional seizures among adults treated at a university hospital.

Alana Hippensteele: Are functional seizures experienced throughout patients’ lives, or is its occurrence associated with the exacerbation of these other comorbid symptoms, such as the psychiatric conditions?

Lea Davis: Actually, both. So, they are experienced throughout the lifetime for many people, and they can be exacerbated. So, for example, if somebody has [post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)] and experiences a PTSD flashback, that can also trigger a seizure event. But the range of seizure events is pretty broad for functional seizure patients. There can be some who maybe only occasionally experience seizures and others who experience dozens of seizures a day, and it is extremely impairing.

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