Why the Andrews Reiter Treatment Was Developed

Many individuals with epilepsy continue to experience seizures despite the best efforts of their neurologists. Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) either do not control their seizures, lead to side effects, or both. Even if seizures are controlled, many patients experience fear, anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness that significantly impair their quality of life. Brain surgery is an option for some with uncontrolled seizures, but many do not want to risk possible injury from surgery; others have seizures caused by bilateral or extensive unilateral brain damage that cannot be helped by brain surgery. The A/R approach was developed to help individuals with these types of seizure disorders.

The A/R treatment method differs from the standard medical model for treating epilepsy, which assumes that seizures begin suddenly and inexplicably, that the patient is unable to expend any personal effort to control his seizures, and that all treatment must be strictly medical or surgical. The A/R method believes the onset of seizures is important to discovering ways to control seizures. All aspects of the patient's history are discussed, including where the seizure occurred; what activities preceded it over a few days to months; life events preceding the seizure, including sleep pattern, travel, work, or social changes and stresses; emotional highs and lows, including excitement, fear, boredom, worry; eating habits; alcohol or drug habits; and so forth. Were there any warning symptoms before the seizure? What repetitive patterns are present with recurrent seizures? Using the A/R method, the patient can accomplish seizure control with help from a support person and professionals.

This treatment method is based on a model of self-control developed by the A/R Epilepsy Research Program (5). The consequences of having epilepsy are numerous, complex, and varied. Psychological studies indicate this is especially true for CPS (6-10). Physicians know that the quality of life for many epilepsy patients is less than optimal because of the occurrence of seizures and because the drugs used to treat seizures can lead to altering and often debilitating effects on personality, intellectual performance, self-image, self-confidence, and self-acceptance (9,11-13). Seizures can distort or inhibit any brain function (10), causing changes in sensation, perception, cognition, speech output and analysis, arousal, affect, memory storage and retrieval, motor activity, and behavior (7).

Seizures cause strong emotional effects. Furthermore, the strong emotions generated by external events can precipitate seizures, often serving to reduce social interactions (14). AEDs may further impair cognitive and behavioral functioning (12,13,15). Therefore, a treatment method that both reduces seizures and the need for AEDs could significantly improve the quality of life for people with epilepsy.

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