Epilepsy Awareness Month - William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital
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William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital


Epilepsy Awareness Month

Image of a brain inside military helmet showing the effect of a blast injury

Image of a brain inside military helmet showing the effect of a blast injury

By Joann Jastrab, JD, Northwest Region Administrative Director
Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In 2008 under Public Law S. 2162, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) set upon its mission to revolutionize services for the veterans afflicted by epilepsy and other seizure disorders. The VA founded the Epilepsy Centers of Excellence (ECoE), establishing 16 sites that are linked to form 4 regional centers. The mission of the ECoE is to improve the health and well being of Veteran patients with epilepsy and other seizure disorders through the integration of clinical care, research and education.

Clinical Care

The Madison ECoE which is located with the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital provides state of the art evaluation and treatment of neurological disorders.  This includes epilepsy evaluation through the epilepsy center of excellence, 24/7 emergency consultations, appropriate in patient service evaluation, and timely neurodiagnostic evaluations (electroencephalography, electromyography, nerve conduction studies, and evoked potential studies).


Dr. Paul A. Rutecki, MD, Northwest Region ECoE Director research currently consists of cellular neurophysiology, hippocampal synaptic synchronization and animal models of epilepsy. He also received a Merit Review grant through the Veterans Administration to study metabotropic glutamate receptors and development of epilepsy.

Education Efforts 

The Madison Epilepsy Center of Excellence and Epilepsy Foundation Southern Wisconsin have been awarded a grant for $10,000 to perform Veterans Outreach in Rural Wisconsin Communities. The goal of the grant is to support returning service men and women, as well as their family members, in all Wisconsin communities by insuring adequate awareness of  Post Traumatic Epilepsy as a sequelae to Traumatic Brain Injury.  In rural communities, Veterans primarily maintain immediate connection with their family practitioners and receive evaluations by VA specialists located in Madison.  The goal of our outreach effort will be to insure that at the point of service, veterans, their family members, and their primary care physicians have knowledge of the symptoms of post-traumatic epilepsy, receive services to which they are entitled through the VA Epilepsy Centers of Excellence, and achieve the earliest possible treatment and quality care.

Veteran Expressions of Epilepsy

On February 9, 2011 the Epilepsy Inpatient Art Project was initiated. An epilepsy art cart containing plain Styrofoam heads and an ample supply of art materials is currently being wheeled into the Epilepsy inpatient rooms every week by a hospital volunteer and ECoE staff, who then assist Epilepsy inpatients with the act of expressing and decorating a Styrofoam head with a wide variety of art materials to illustrate or visualize what it is like to experience seizures and what it means to patients to live with epilepsy. The decorated Styrofoam heads are being collected after each Epilepsy inpatient stay to be displayed in the hospital during National Epilepsy Awareness Month, which is every November. The hope is that the epilepsy inpatient art project will have the ability to bridge the epileptic experience with artistic expression to create understanding and awareness of the effects of epilepsy.

For more information:

If you are a veteran with seizures and are interested in visiting our Epilepsy Center, please communicate with your local VA primary care physician. This doctor will be able to determine if you might benefit from visiting us, and can help set up a visit. For more information please visit our website at www.epilepsy.va.gov or contact:

Madison Epilepsy Center of Excellence
2500 Overlook Tr. Madison, WI 53705
(608) 256-1901 ext 17728


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