Pediatric Neurology Expands, Offers More Clinics
Physicians in the Pediatric Neurology section of the Department of Neurology at American Family Children's Hospital have always prided themselves on being able to respond quickly to urgent cases, such as a child with a new onset seizure or an undiagnosed neurological problem.
However, in the past, with only two or three pediatric neurologists on staff at any given time, patients were often booked out for weeks or even months, which meant there was a long waiting list for routine appointments.
Today, however, the section now has five pediatric neurologists on staff-an expansion that has allowed the physicians to increase their availability and services. The section now includes:
- Carl E. Stafstrom, MD, PhD, section chief
- Frederick S. Edelman, MD
- David Hsu, MD, PhD
- Chris Ikonomidou, MD, PhD
- Lucyna Zawadzki, MD
With more physicians on staff, there is always at least one pediatric neurologist in clinic, five days a week.
"Our availability for outpatient services is excellent," says Dr. Stafstrom.
Pediatric neurologists at American Family Children's Hospital also participate in several multidisciplinary clinics. These clinics are intended for children whose illnesses require that they regularly see several specialists.
"Instead of having to come back for several different appointments, a child can be evaluated by several pediatric specialists on the same day," says Dr. Stafstrom. "Additionally, a social worker and a nurse are involved in each clinic to provide psychosocial and medical support for families and patients."
Dr. Stafstrom participates in two multidisciplinary clinics. The Pediatric Neuro-oncology Clinic, for children with a tumor of the brain or spinal cord, takes place twice a month and includes several pediatric subspecialists, including neurology, neurosurgery, radiation oncology, rehabilitation medicine and medical oncology/hematology. The Pediatric Neurocutaneous Disorders Clinic, for children with disorders affecting the skin and nervous system such as neurofibromatosis and tuberous sclerosis, takes place monthly and involves participation of neurology, genetics, dermatology and medical oncology/hematology.
Dr. Hsu attends two multidisciplinary clinics as well. He recently joined the Pediatric Neuromuscular Clinic, which takes place once a month and includes neurology, pulmonary and rehabilitation medicine. This clinic addresses the multidimensional needs of children with disorders of muscle and the neuromuscular system. Dr. Hsu will also be participating in a new Neurometabolic Clinic that will include a neurologist and a biochemical geneticist.
Epilepsy and Seizure Treatment
UW Health is at the forefront of innovative treatments for pediatric epilepsy and seizures. Drs. Stafstrom and Zawadzki are certified subspecialists in this area and provide inpatient video-EEG monitoring and routine EEG interpretation. Both of these doctors, as well as all of the pediatric neurologists at American Family Children's Hospital, are qualified to provide the latest medications and avant garde treatments for pediatric epilepsy.
UW Health physicians offer three alternative treatment options for children who do not respond to medications:
- Vagus Nerve Stimulator (VNS), which uses an electrical stimulator implanted in the chest to deliver electrical impulses to the brain. These impulses disrupt the abnormal neural signals that comprise a seizure.
- The ketogenic diet is the newest offering at UW Health. "It is a special diet consisting of high fats and low carbohydrates that is specifically designed for children with epilepsy who do not respond to other measures," says Stafstrom. "At least one-third to one-half of the children who follow this diet experience a significant reduction in seizures." Because the diet requires a major lifestyle change for children, families need a large amount of support. American Family Children's Hospital has employed an experienced dietician to oversee the program and provide families with the appropriate nutritional and emotional support.
- For selected children with epilepsy, surgery can sometimes allow removal of a brain area that is causing the seizures. For both children and adults with epilepsy, UW Health's comprehensive approach to evaluation and management of such patients utilizes the expertise of a wide array of specialists. Dr. Stafstrom concludes that, "We have everything in place for treating children with the most intractable seizures."
In addition to offering services in Madison, UW Health has developed a network of health care facilities in many locations across Wisconsin. The goal is to make available the expertise of UW Health physicians at a location more convenient for patients. Dr. Ikonomidou participates in a monthly half-day clinic at the Aspirus Health System in Wausau, Wis., and Dr. Hsu travels to the UW Health Partners Johnson Creek Clinic one day each month. Dr. Edelman has provided neurologic care for both adults and children in Fort Atkinson for many years and will continue to attend this clinic.
Additional resources, multi-disciplinary clinics and special programs have brought the Pediatric Neurology section at American Family Children's Hospital to a new level.
"We are now a major player on the national pediatric neurology scene," says Stafstrom.