In a study published in Seizure, researchers looked at the balance dysfunction sometimes suffered by people who are taking anti-seizure medications. The goal of the 2011 study was to look at the subclinical balance dysfunction in patients who suffered from various epilepsy syndromes along with healthy subjects.
Why Was the Study Conducted?
Many patients who suffer from epilepsy also complain that they suffer from a lack of coordination and balance and can suffer injuries because of the AEDs, or antiepileptic drugs they’re taking. The objective of the study was to assess balance function on “well-defined populations of idiopathic PGE and LRE on anti-seizure medication treatment, in relation to normal controls.”
All of the patients in the study were informed of how the study would proceed, and consented to the process. Those who made up the study had PGE (primary generalized epilepsy) and LRE (localization related epilepsy) and were participants mainly recruited from the Sheba Medical Center. All of the patients were also treated with anti-seizure medications for at least seven days before examination and given a dose the morning before their clinic visit.
In addition, the demographic data, BMI (body mass index), and type of the AED treatment were as close as possible between the patients studied. There were no statistically significant differences.
Patients were excluded from the study if they had any history of balance disturbance as well as vestibular disease, vagal nerve stimulation, psychiatric diseases, and chronic illnesses that could affect the nervous system. In addition, they were excluded if they suffer from alcohol or drug addiction.
What Happened During the Study?
All of the patients underwent the study between 10 AM and 1 PM after their epilepsy clinic visit. The study had seven tests for postural assessment and each lasted for 30 seconds. To determine a sway index, each person in the study was instructed to stand still as possible for the duration of the test while:
- keeping their eyes open.
- keeping their eyes closed.
- performing a cognitive test.
- standing on their left foot with their eyes open.
- standing on their right foot with their eyes open.
- standing on their left foot with their eyes closed.
- standing on their right foot with their eyes closed.
When their eyes were open, they were told to look straight ahead at a target that was placed on the opposite wall. The examination area for the test was well lit and it was in a quiet place so as not to provide any distractions.
The affect of AEDs on balance is topic that interests many people taking anti seizure-medications. To learn more about this read our blog, "Can Anti-Epileptic Drugs Cause a Loss of Balance?"
The study compared the results of the control group who to the group with epilepsy. The researchers found that the people taking AEDs had greater impaired balance when compared to healthy subjects. This was most notable in the single leg stance while standing on the left leg. Within the group of people who suffered from epilepsy, those who suffered from PGE had worse balance function than those with LRE. Those who were taking anti-seizure medications seemed to have greater problems with balance than healthy subjects who were not taking AEDs.