SSM Neurosciences Institute At DePaul Expands Advanced Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

The SSM Neurosciences Institute at DePaul Health Center has expanded its advanced Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU), adding bed capacity to serve more patients with seizure disorders.

Under the medical direction of Daniel Mattson, MD, a board-certified neurologist fellowship trained in epilepsy treatment, this specialized unit has expanded from two beds to four beds and is one of only a handful in St. Louis. In addition, the EMU now offers long-term monitoring for patients in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

The EMU helps doctors more accurately diagnose or rule out epilepsy in people who have experienced a seizure or in whom the diagnosis is uncertain. It also serves patients already diagnosed with epilepsy, but who may need adjustments to their medications or adjunctive therapies, such as vagal nerve stimulators or epilepsy surgery.

“More than 20 percent of unresponsive neurological ICU patients may demonstrate epileptic activity on an EEG that, if untreated, can lead to irreversible brain damage,” Dr. Mattson says.

EMU patients are connected to an advanced electroencephalogram (EEG) system that uses Bluetooth technology, allowing the patient to move around freely while still being monitored. A technician monitors the patient around the clock and records the patient on video. Most patients are monitored in the hospital for two to seven days to determine the frequency of seizures and where they are occurring in the brain. This helps physicians design the most effective treatment.

“In the past, many seizure disorder patients were simply put on anti-epileptic drugs,” says Erin Sydnor, RN, executive director of strategy and business development for the SSM Neurosciences Institute. “Since they hadn’t been monitored, they were going home and not having much success; they were still experiencing seizures.”

Epilepsy is a medical condition that makes people susceptible to recurrent seizures. These seizures — which can present with many different symptoms — result from brief, but strong, surges of electrical activity in the brain. Epilepsy and seizures affect 3 million Americans, with 180,000 new cases of epilepsy diagnosed each year. One in 10 people has a seizure by the time they are 85 years old.

The EMU at SSM DePaul maintains a strict fall precautions protocol and rooms are furnished with low therapeutic beds and removable floor pads for safety. The hospital also is equipped with a mobile monitoring device that can be moved to or other areas as needed.

For more information about the EMU and epilepsy treatment, call 314-355-3355 or visit


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