Benign rolandanic epilepsy is probably the most common type of epilepsy in children and has no known cause. It does however have a good prognosis since most children will grow out of the condition in their mid-teens. Benign rolandanic seizures begin in the rolandic area of the brain and only this area is involved – which means the seizures are classified as being partial.
Children with Benign rolandanic epilepsy are generally in good health and although they may have specific difficulties around visuo-spatial skills, drawing or reading and language they do not usually have learning difficulties. Currently it is known that those with benign rolandanic epilepsy have no underlying brain conditions and that the condition leaves no ill effects behind once the patient reaches puberty and grows out of it. Recent research has shown that there may some development delays in children who develop benign rolandanic epilepsy. For reasons which remain unclear this condition appears to affect boys more than girls. Unlike many epilepsy sufferers children with this particular condition report no experience of an aura or automatism prior to the seizures.
A Benign rolandanic seizure often, but not always, seems to occur on wakening – the child may experience tingling to one side of the mouth and face, speech may be impaired making it difficult for the child to express him or herself correctly. There may also be twitching and stiffness on the same side of the body and face. If both sides of the body are affected (which is a rare occurrence) the child may well lose consciousness and experience incontinence. Post seizure a child may need a nap since they will often be very sleepy. Nocturnal seizures do occur with around half of sufferers experiencing seizures at night. There does appear to be a familial or genetic connection involved in benign rolandanic epilepsy sufferers – having a sibling with the condition is a known risk factor.
Diagnosis of Benign rolandanic epilepsy will necessitate a full and accurate record of the seizure history and an EEG test to record electrical brain activity, occasionally an EEG will fail to pick up epileptic activity in the rolandic are of the brain but that does not preclude a diagnosis.
Because this condition is a relatively mild form of epilepsy, which is also generally outgrown by the time the patient reaches puberty, a drug regime is not always considered necessary by medical practitioners. However the use of medication is reassuring for parents and patients and despite some children only experiencing one or two seizures and not really requiring any treatment anti-epileptic drugs may be prescribed; the most common of these include Carbamazepine, Lamotrigine or Sodium Valporate. The dosage for this medication will be daily for a period of no less than two years – it is generally assumed that being seizure free for two years means that the condition has passed. As with many medications these anti-epileptic drugs can cause side effects and it is wise to fully consider all outcomes when deciding on a treatment plan. It only requires two seizures for a diagnosis of epilepsy to be made but these two may be the only ones a patient has.