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Hypnosis helped Stanford/Packard physicians pinpoint cause of children's seizures
Date:2/14/2008

een the ages of 8 to 16 whose seizurelike events included twitching, loss of consciousness, shaking, jerking and falling. Their results were published online in January in Epilepsy & Behavior. The physicians needed to know whether these were true epileptic events, which are best treated by medication, or non-epileptic events caused by psychological stress or other neurological problems.

"We can't always distinguish epileptic from non-epileptic events visually, or through descriptions by family or friends," said Olson, an associate professor of neurology, of neurosurgery and of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine. "But regardless of the cause, these are disabling, life-altering events that need to be treated."

The authors believe that, although hypnosis may not work for every child, the technique is an important tool that can speed proper diagnosis and treatment for children suffering from seizurelike events.

To hypnotize the subjects, Shaw, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and of pediatrics at the School of Medicine, first used a combination of deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation to induce a state of relaxation and deep focused attention in the subjects. He then used a combination of imagery and suggestion to induce one of their typical seizurelike events. Children typically visualize being at one of their favorite places - for one teen, it was on a beach in the Bahamas. After a hypnotic trance was established, Shaw would then direct the child to recall the feelings or events that usually precede a typical seizure. Electrodes on the child's scalp recorded their brain activity during the session.

In eight out of nine cases, Shaw could successfully trigger a seizurelike event with this procedure. After an appropriate monitoring interval, Shaw then directed the hypnotized child to "return" to his or her favorite place and the episode would stop. Using this technique, t
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Contact: Krista Conger
kristac@stanford.edu
650-725-5371
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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