Drug Treatment

Kailyn Houston

“As we lack precise diagnostic criteria, we cannot tell how common epilepsy is…”

MOH report from Walthamstow, 1955
Medical Officer of Health Report for Walthamstow in 1955, stating that there was no real definition or diagnostic criteria for epilepsy

Through our research of the Wellcome Library’s resources, we found a number of different treatments for epilepsy, as well as admissions of a lack of understanding and ability to diagnose epilepsy in either adults or children.  Although the above image explains that there was a lack of diagnostic criteria for epilepsy, there was the utilization of tools such as EEGs, demonstrating that there was an understanding of some link between epilepsy and brain activity.

Just 100 years ago, epilepsy was a complete mystery, constantly being studied to find cures and a better understanding. A review for drug treatments was performed by the International League Against Epilepsy (ILAE) from the year 1909 to 1958. These are the main years we researched in regard to epilepsy. We chose to focus on this time range is because there seemed to be major breakthroughs. Our findings during this time span also yielded some problematic questions that we found to be really interesting, mainly relating to the diagnosing and treatment of epilepsy.

Drug Treatment of Epilepsy in the Century of the ILAE: The First 50 Years, 1909-1958. Simon D. Shorvon. UCL Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, UK.

This review included a number of different treatment options for epilepsy the time including dietary changes like following a ketogenic diet. Other suggestions for treatment or maintenance of epilepsy included both physical and speech therapy as well as changes in oral hygiene. As the brain was further understood to play a role in epilepsy and its long term effects, drugs were further introduced as treatment option between the years 1939 and 1958. There were as many as 13 new drugs presented during this time. There were a number of different combinations and trials on these combinations in hope of lowering the number of seizures one had to trying to reduce the impact these seizures had on one’s overall well being.