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A Closer Look at Epilepsy for Neurosurgery Awareness Month

Every year in August, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) celebrates Neurosurgery Awareness Month. They pick a new theme each year to highlight some aspect of the field.  Past themes have included concussion, back pain, traumatic brain injury, and who individual neurosurgeons are (see our post “Going Behind the Mask” for Neurosurgery Awareness Month).

This year, the Neurosurgery Awareness month focus is Epilepsy.

Epilepsy is the name used for a group of neurological disorders that are characterized by recurrent seizures — brief electrical disturbances in the brain that can cause a variety of symptoms such as strange sensations, changes in behavior or emotions, muscle spasms, convulsions, and a sudden loss of awareness or consciousness.

By some estimates, epilepsy and seizure disorders affect 1 to 3 percent of the population. That’s a lot of people, and because one of the treatments is neurosurgery, we have a care center devoted to taking care of these patients. At the Epilepsy Center we currently have two neurosurgeons, Dr. Neil Feldstein, who takes care of children, and Dr. Guy McKhann who takes care of adults.

You can learn more about these doctors in our “Making of a Neurosurgeon” series.

In these two stories, our doctors explain what drew them to medicine to begin with, then to neurosurgery, and ultimately to their particular specializations. Drs. Feldstein and McKhann come from very different backgrounds and each took a deliberate path that we think you will be fascinated to learn about.

For over 20 years, Dr. McKhann and Dr. Feldstein have taken care of patients with epilepsy here at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

The patients are the ones who can offer a real-world perspective on what it’s like to work with these doctors.  In our story ‘I’m Living a Normal Life for the First Time’: Madison’s Epilepsy Cure you will learn about Madison Wells, who suffered from near daily seizures. Her life was barely livable. Just before she turned 18 she was offered a new surgical treatment by Dr. Feldstein and Dr. McKhann. They worked together on her case and well… from the title of her story, you can guess things turned out pretty well.

Finally, click on each doctor’s name (Dr. Feldstein or Dr. McKhann) to go to his bio page. On their bio pages, you will learn more about their education, research interests, and accomplishments.

You can also learn why these doctors have committed their lives to neurosurgery and why they love what they do. All this and more is in their “Meet the Doctor” videos at the bottom of their bio pages in the “Our Doctors” section of our website.

Help us spread the word this month about Neurosurgery Awareness Month and share this post on social media using the hashtag #NeurosurgeryAwarenessMonth. Mention us @ColumbiaNeuro so we see you, too!

patient journey

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