In previous studies, it has been shown that there is little to no change in intelligence measures (such as IQ) in short-term follow-up after epilepsy surgery in children. But what about in long-term follow-up? Do these improvements take a longer time to appear?

In Dr. Mary Lou Smith’s study, participants who were seizure free at long-term follow-up (between 4-11 years) eventually showed an improvement in general IQ. It was also found that participants who continued to have seizures had declines in various aspects of intelligence, whereas participants who were seizure-free had increases, resulting in a difference between the groups at long-term follow-up.

This study shows that being seizure-free (either from surgery or medication) is related to improved intellectual function in the long term. Importantly, this also demonstrates the need for research into improved therapies for people with drug-resistant epilepsy, with the hopes that they can experience the benefits of seizure freedom.

Dr. Smith’s future research plans include looking at whether other aspects of cognition (e.g., language, academic skills, memory) also improve with seizure freedom in long-term outcomes.

*To learn about the social, educational and vocational outcomes after seizure surgery, read Dr. Mary Lou’s latest research in Nature Reviews Neurology.

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