Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gelastic epilepsy

Snail has this!  I didn't realise it had a special name all it's own.  Gelastic epilepsy...

Gelastic epilepsy refers to a type of epilepsy, in which the seizures are 'gelastic', gelastikos being the Greek word for laughter. Gelastic epilepsy is very rare and occurs slightly more commonly in boys than in girls. Of every 1000 children with epilepsy, only one or at the very most, two children will have gelastic epilepsy. 
Seizures may begin at any age but usually before three or four years of age. The seizures usually start with laughter and the laughter is often described as being 'hollow' or 'empty' and not very pleasant. The laughter occurs suddenly, comes on for no obvious reason and is usually completely out of place.
Sometimes older children may complain of a warning beforehand, although they are not always able to describe exactly what this warning is like.
The laughter usually lasts less than one minute and is then followed by signs that are more usually recognised with complex partial or focal seizures. These signs can include eye and head moving to one or the other side, automatisms (such as lip-smacking, mumbling or fidgeting of the hands) and altered awareness. This period may last for seconds to many minutes and then stops.
The most common areas of the brain which give rise to gelastic seizures are the hypothalamus (a small but extremely important structure deep in the centre of the brain), the temporal lobes and the frontal lobes.
Children may also have other types of seizures either immediately after these gelastic seizures or at other times. These include tonic-clonic and atonic seizures (also know as drop seizures).
They are generally caused by a type of tumour, but in Snail's case it's just from the way her brain is malformed.  This info doesn't help us any, really, but it just explains those horrible laughing, crying, or screaming in horror seizures that she gets.  Nearly always followed by a major tonic clonic or partial seizure.  She has, of course, a dizzying array of seizures, we don't see these gelastic ones all the time, but still, nice to learn a bit more.

The brain is an interesting and sometimes very fucked up place.

Brain, you are both sublime and ridiculous.


Elizabeth said...

My Sophie has gelastic seizures occasionally as well.

Your last sentence: I concur.

Selene said...

Those are not happy laughing sounds, are they. I hate the idea that her emotions are being so manipulated. Yuck all round.