Childhood epilepsy focus of area conference

Top practitioners in the field of pediatric neurophysiology will lend their expertise to more than 100 parents of children living with epilepsy.

Pediatric epilepsy is the focus of this year's annual Epilepsy Foundation of Northeastern New York's conference.

The organization serves 40,000 people suffering from the disease in a 22-county region that extends from Ulster County to the Canadian border. This year's conference is Friday, Nov. 2, at the Italian American Community Center in Albany.

Members of the foundation and parents of children suffering from epilepsy make the most of the annual event that gives people the opportunity to engage neurological professionals about new treatments and advancement in the field.

It's almost more of an art than a science. You try different medications, doses and mixes. It's a combination of the two (art and science), said William Bantz, foundation member and parent of an epileptic child.

Bantz's daughter, Emma, was diagnosed with epilepsy at 4 months old. She is now 3-1/2, and although William and his wife have better control over her seizures, she still suffers from as many as four seizures in a day. That's down from as many as 15 in one day, said Bantz.

Three years ago, Bantz came across an advertisement for the foundation's annual conference in a local newspaper, he said. He and his wife attended to better help them address Emma's needs. They found it to be a good source of information, Bantz said.

They also found they were not alone.

"Epilepsy is the leading neurological disease in childhood. We've scheduled this conference to inform people of the issues. This is the first exclusively for pediatrics," said Julie Eisele, community epilepsy educator with the foundation.

The foundation has brought in leading researchers in pediatric epilepsy from Albany Medical Center and Boston Children's Hospital. Many parents have relied on the two institutions for care and best practices to help their children combat the debilitating condition.

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