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Providence VA Medical Center, Rhode Island


Seizure Disorders

Seizure Research at the Providence VA Medical Center

There are three types of seizures: epileptic, physiologic nonepileptic events and psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES).  Epileptic seizures are caused by abnormal brain cell firing.  Physiologic events are associated with medical or physiologic disorders.  Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures resemble epilepsy but are associated with underlying psychological distress or stressors.  Seizures are a neropsychiatric disorder that can occur spontaneously or after someone goes through a traumatic event like war, assault, an accident, injury or disaster.

The VA Epilepsy Centers of Excellence (ECoE) will release a new video in the "Veteran and Epilepsy: Basic Training" series every few months addressing the stigma of epilepsy and educate Veterans, their caregivers, and the general public about living with epilepsy.  Each video in the series features a Veteran sharing his or her personal experiences and unique challenges balancing the medical, personal and social aspects associated with having recurring seizures.  The goal of the video series is to promote public awareness of the impact of epilepsy in the lives of Veterans and to convey that these patients are able to live full, productive, successful lives

• This ECoE video series "Veterans and Epilepsy: Basic Training" -  The first video of the series focuses on the diagnosis of epilepsy is now available on YouTube **. 

• The ECoE video series "Veterans and Epilepsy: Basic Training" - Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures or PNES.  PNES resembles epilepsy.  These seizures can look very much like epileptic seizures, but it is caused by psychological issues, rather that  abnormal electrical impulses in the brain.  The video is available on YouTube **.

Here at the Providence VA Medical Center (PVAMC) there are several research studies taking place that are looking for volunteers.  Taking part in research studies can be interesting for you and it contributes to helping others by advancing knowledge.

Dr. W. Curt LaFrance Jr
., principal investigator for a pilot study of Veterans with epileptic seizures at the Providence VA Medical Center, conducts a finger tapping exercise with Army and Navy Veteran Ernest J. Avery of West Warwick, RI, during an exam.  Avery, who served in Greece as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, sustained a traumatic brain injury during an accident on scaffolding at his civilian job after returning from military service, (Providence VA Medical Center photo by Winfield Danielson)

Dr. W. Curt LaFrance, Jr., MD, MPH, who is part of Focus Area 1 team of the Center for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology (CfNN), studies diagnosis methods and treatment for patients with seizures.  His work focuses on ways to better understand and treat seizure disorders and their common related conditions, including depression, anxiety, PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Clinically, he directs the Division of Neuropsychiatry and Behavioral Neurology at Rhode Island Hospital, he has a neuropsychiatry clinic at the Providence VA, and he is the clinical-lead for the National Telemental Health Center (NTMHC) Tele-Seizures program and works with the VA Epilesy Centers of Excellence (EcoE).

Active Studies:

Do you have a history of a head injury and a seizure disorder? 
Do you have a history of head injury without seizures?


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