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The human brain is more than just the world's most advanced computer. In it resides command central for all of our body's functions and our most complex emotions. When there's an intermittent problem in the brain -- as in epilepsy (seizures) -- it is difficult to precisely pinpoint the location of the problem.

Although patients with epilepsy in Hawai'i receive good care, there is a growing national trend toward subspecialties. The field of epilepsy is no different; hence the opening of The Queen's Medical Center's new four-bed Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU).

The EMU is a long time in coming. The pieces began to fall into place in 1998 with the arrival of Dr. Alan Stein to Hawai'i. Before then, there was no specially trained epileptologist based in Hawai'i. Dr. Stein is a Board Certified Neurologist who has had two years of special fellowship training in epilepsy.

The Queen's Neuroscience Institute then began to envision the EMU. After many revisions to the design, staffing roles and expectations, and after an in-depth review and approval of various departments and committees, the EMU is ready to make its debut. Throughout the entire process, the same vision has remained in place: To improve the quality of care to epilepsy patients in Hawai'i.

The new unit requires a team of skilled professionals, including EEG (brainwave mapping) technicians, monitor technicians, nurses, outpatient staff and physicians. Persons with chronic, uncontrolled seizures would be admitted to Queen's to allow them to have seizures under observation by the specially trained staff. In the EMU, continuous EEG and concurrent video will be conducted and analyzed to determine the type and location of seizure onset. Patients will have private rooms and be on video monitoring continuously for 24 hours a day over a 5 to 7 day hospital stay.

The outcome goal of hospitalization will be to develop a plan to improve a person's quality of life through more focused treatment or epilepsy surgery.

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