When Half a Brain is Better than One: Recurrent Seizures

  • Lynn Bennett Blackburn


Betsy looked just like any other child as she sat between her parents in the waiting room. She greeted the examiner with a polite smile and a shy hello. As she walked down the hall to the testing room, her right arm tended to hang at her side, not moving like the left. Her gait was awkward. These were the only visible signs that Betsy was very different than other children.

No one suspected when Betsy was born that her brain had developed in an atypical manner. During infancy, her parents noticed that she was not using her right arm. Her doctor thought that she might have damaged a nerve in the shoulder area at birth and recommended occupational therapy. The occupational therapist found that muscle control in Betsy's right leg was also abnormal. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) demonstrated that the left side of her brain had a cleft, a deep valley in the brain's surface rather than the normal wrinkles. The cells around the cleft were disorganized, a brain malformation. Physical and occupational therapy were provided in her home until she was 3 years of age and then continued through an early childhood special education program. Speech therapy was added when it became clear that Betsy had difficulty making some speech sounds (articulation problems). Betsy's parents were pleased with her progress.


Ketogenic Diet Recurrent Seizure Muscle Control Brain Malformation Individualize Education Plan 


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Resources for Clinicians

  1. Basheer, S. N., Connolly, M. B., Lautzenhiser, A., Sherman, E. M., Hendson, G., & Steinbok, P. (2007). Hemispheric surgery in children with refractory epilepsy: Seizure outcome, complications, and adaptive function. Epilepsia, 48, 133–140.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
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Resources for Families

  1. Blackburn, L. B. (2003). Growing up with epilepsy: A practical guide for parents. New York: Demos Medical Publishing.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lynn Bennett Blackburn
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Neurology and PediatricsMedical College of WisconsinMilwaukee

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