Comprehensive Epilepsy Center

About 470,000 children in the United States have epilepsy—it is the most common brain disorder in children. Epilepsy causes seizures, or abnormal bursts of electrical activity in the brain. When these bursts of electrical activity happen, your child might experience temporary changes in movement or behavior.

The Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles offers the most advanced, highest-quality pediatric epilepsy care in Southern California. Our experts offer leading-edge treatments to help children with epilepsy manage or prevent seizures.

Expert Epilepsy Care

Our epilepsy center is a Level 4 Center, the highest certification available from the National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC). Centers with Level 4 status have excellent outcomes, see more patients and use the most innovative diagnostic tools and treatments available. NAEC guidelines recommend that patients with severe or rare symptoms be seen at Level 4 centers, emphasizing how important it is to us to provide the safest, most effective care.

Comprehensive Epilepsy Center: Why Choose Us

Our program offers:

  • Team-based care: Our epilepsy experts work with multiple specialists, such as neuropsychologists, dietitians and neurosurgeons, to provide treatments for epilepsy. Your child receives well-rounded epilepsy care, which may include medication therapy, diet therapy or pediatric neurosurgery. This collaborative approach leads to better outcomes and a higher quality of life for your child.
  • On-site genetic testing: Our epilepsy center is one of the only programs in the country with access to an on-site genetic testing lab. These tests help our specialists develop the most targeted, personalized treatment plan for your child. Because we do this genetic testing, we can also let more families know when their children qualify for a clinical trial.
  • 24-hour oversight in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit: Children who need additional diagnostic tests may stay in our Inpatient Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) overnight. We are one of the only programs in the country with specially trained technicians and nurses monitoring children in this unit 24/7. If children have seizures or any other medical issues overnight, they receive immediate care from clinicians who specialize in epilepsy.

Advanced Evaluation Tools and Real-Time Diagnosis

Experts at Children’s Hospital use a variety of imaging studies to guide plans for epilepsy surgery. This leads to more targeted treatment options that promote better outcomes.

Epilepsy Surgery Expertise

Our experts have specialized skills and extensive experience that enables us to offer advanced treatments. For example, some children may benefit from surgery to treat epilepsy. We have one of the highest seizure-free rates after surgery in the country. And our neurosurgeons have operated on children of all ages, including babies as young as 2 weeks old.

We perform more than 75 epilepsy surgeries per year. Pre-surgical evaluation tools help create surgical plans, and we have the technology to monitor the brain in real-time during procedures to pinpoint which part of the brain is causing seizures and fix the problem.

Seizure Signs and Symptoms

Some signs of seizure, such as shaking or temporarily losing consciousness, are easy to recognize. Others, such as a blank stare, extreme sleepiness or subtle loss of developmental milestones, may be less obvious and not as common. Signs of seizure include:

  • Tremors or jerking movements
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Developmental regressions 
  • Speech changes or difficulty understanding language
  • Sudden falls
  • Staring, sudden pause in activity, not responding, or appearing confused or in a haze
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Eye fluttering, periods of rapid blinking or staring into space 
  • Sudden head nods, spasms or stiffening of the body 
  • Breathing problems 
  • Vision loss or changes

Diagnosis and Treatment for Seizures in Children

When you bring your child to the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at CHLA, our specialists connect your family with the appropriate clinic or service. Whether your child has new symptoms or an established diagnosis, our specialists can help.

Our epilepsy services include:

New-onset seizure clinic

If your child had a seizure for the first time, this clinic can help. The specialists in this clinic evaluate, diagnose and treat children with new symptoms.

We aim to treat your child within 7 to 10 days of the identification of the first seizure. Children’s Hospital is one of the only programs on the West Coast with such quick access to new-onset seizure care. Timely appointments mean your child can start treatment sooner. Find out more about the New-Onset Seizure Clinic.

Epilepsy diagnosis

Our specialists offer a range of advanced tools to diagnose epilepsy and find the root cause of your child’s seizures. We may recommend tests such as MRI scans, electroencephalograms (EEGs), PET scans or SPECT scans.

CHLA has an ABRET-accredited EEG center, meaning we use advanced equipment and high-quality techniques. Discover more about epilepsy diagnosis and neuroimaging.

Inpatient EMU

An epilepsy monitoring unit (EMU) has advanced technology to evaluate and diagnose children who have seizures. If you receive a referral to our EMU, your child stays in the unit overnight. This inpatient observation helps us learn more about what’s happening in your child’s brain before, during and after a seizure.

We have specially trained nurses and technicians staffing our EMU 24/7. Learn more about the Inpatient Epilepsy Monitoring Unit.

EMU-compatible playroom

Our EMU-compatible playroom allows your child to play with other children in a room equipped for continuous monitoring. Your child wears a small backpack with the necessary monitoring device. This device connects via Bluetooth to the monitoring equipment.

Epilepsy clinic

This clinic treats children who need ongoing seizure management. Treatment might include medication, diet therapy or neurosurgery. Learn more about the Epilepsy Clinic

Clinical Trials for Epilepsy

We offer an extensive range of clinical studies and trials for patients who would like to participate. For example, genetic experts have identified more than 500 genes that can cause epilepsy, and we are now beginning to use this research to improve care for our patients. Clinical research like this helps us provide even better treatments for children in the future.

If you want to participate in a clinical research study, speak with your child’s epileptologist about potential opportunities.

Patient Resources: Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to your questions about the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center.