Janina Freestone, Comprehensive Epilepsy Program clinical trial participant

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Photo: Epilepsy clinical trial participant, Janina Freestone

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a common condition that causes people to have unpredictable and recurrent seizures, caused by sudden disruptions to the electrical activity in the brain.

Epilepsy can begin in childhood or adulthood.

If someone is having a seizure for the first time, call 000 immediately and ask for an ambulance.

Austin Health's Comprehensive Epilepsy Program is the leading epilepsy centre in Australia, treating patients from all around the country, New Zealand and South East Asia. We are recognised as an international leader in both clinical care and research. 

We diagnose, assess and treat adults and children with both new and established epilepsy.

Depending on your needs, you may be referred for an appointment at one of our clinics, admitted into the ward, or a combination of both.

For up to 70 per cent of people with epilepsy, seizures can be controlled with medication. For a very small number of people, treatment with surgery may be an option. Austin Health is one of a small number of centres that offers epilepsy video monitoring and surgery.

The exact treatment that you receive for epilepsy depends on a number of factors. You can discuss these with your doctor.

Our epilepsy research

The directors of our adult and children's epilepsy programs, Professors Sam Berkovic and Ingrid Scheffer, also lead the Epilepsy Research Centre at The University of Melbourne, which is based here at Austin Health.

The integration of this research team into our Comprehensive Epilepsy Program has many benefits for patients, including access to the latest clinical trials, cutting-edge neuroimaging and other technologies, and the rapid translation of research findings into treatments.

This research team has discovered several types of epilepsy and numerous epilepsy genes - including the first gene linked to epilepsy, in 1995. Their impact on the global understanding of epilepsy saw them jointly awarded the 2014 Prime Minister's Prize for Science.

In addition, Prof Scheffer lead a major revision of the classification system for epilepsy, published in 2017, and was involved in pioneering research that showed that cannabidiol can reduce seizures in children with the rare epilepsy, Dravet syndrome.