Frye Opens Epilepsy Monitoring Unit 
Friday, 23 May 2008 

Frye Regional Medical Center is pleased to announce the opening of its Epilepsy Monitoring Unit as an addition to the hospital’s Neuro Science Center. The unit is designed to help detect, diagnose and monitor patients experiencing suspected seizures. Until recently, area neurologists have usually had to send their patients out of town for EMU studies, but with this technology now at Frye, the convenience and quality care is closer to home with added comfort to the patient.

The use of the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit can help aid in diagnosing symptoms that may often be symptomatic of other conditions. According to James A. Armstrong, MD, a neurologist on staff at Frye, a very common condition seen by many physicians is that of patients with a complaint of an unusual spell. “These episodes are often described in a number of ways such as lightheadedness; sensations of feeling disconnected; brief loss of consciousness; abnormal jerking movements of the arms or legs; a sensation of a loss of continuity of time; and/or abnormal movements during sleep,” he said.

The Epilepsy Monitoring Unit allows physicians to better assess patients’ seizures in an inpatient setting over an extended number of days. This aids the physicians in diagnosing the type and cause of a patient’s seizures and aid in prescribing the course of treatment designed to reduce or eliminate seizures. This in turn helps confirm the diagnosis of epilepsy as well as its severity.

“Epileptic events can be easily mistaken for other types of spells like TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack), cardiac arrhythmia, hypoglycemia, panic attacks, or subconscious behavioral events,” said Seth E. Larson, MD, a Frye neurologist.  “Often recurrent spells are difficult to classify based on history, brain imaging, and routine EEG data alone.  In these cases, the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit becomes a valuable tool,” he added.  

While at Frye, the patients are monitored with both visual and auditory equipment. “Nurses and technologists continually monitor the patients and doctors assess them daily,” said Cornie Starns, R.EEGT, Frye’s Neurodiagnostic Center Supervisor. “We have two hospital beds which are in dedicated rooms equipped with state of art EEG machines and audio and video equipment. We want our patients to be as comfortable and as safe as possible during their stay,” added Starns.  

While there is no known cure for epilepsy, medications can control seizures in most people.  In the United States, 2.3 million Americans are diagnosed each year with epilepsy. For more information contact the Frye Neurodiagnostic Center at 828-315-3966 or for physician referral call 828-315-3391.

Frye Regional Medical Center is a 355-bed acute care facility located at 420 North Center Street in Hickory.  The hospital has been serving the medical and health care needs of Catawba County since 1911.  The hospital’s main campus includes a comprehensive heart center, orthopedics, bariatric surgery, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation, restorative care unit, pediatrics, center for neurosciences, cancer center and women’s pavilion.  Frye has several extended campuses to serve families throughout the area, including FryeCare, an outpatient diagnostic facility; Cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, Frye Wellness and Education Center, which houses the Center For Diabetes Self-Management Care, perinatal education and community wellness classes; Infusion Care; Piedmont Therapy, offering sports and industrial rehabilitation; South Campus for psychiatric services; Tate Surgery Center; Unifour Pain Treatment Center; Unifour Pulmonology; two urgent care facilities; and Vein and Wound Center.  For employers, Frye provides industrial health services through Hart Industrial Clinic, Oakwood Place an outpatient substance abuse program and our urgent care locations.

Frye Regional Medical Center is accredited by the Joint Commission, the nation’s oldest and largest hospital accreditation agency.