Alexa Haberbush

5-Year Old Girl Reclaims Childhood - Seizures reduced from 215 to 5 per day

Alexa and Jamie Haberbush

Alexa Haberbush often stopped what she was doing and stared into space, seemingly lost in a daydream. But when mom Jamie couldn’t “snap her out of it,” she knew something was wrong.

“Other people started seeing it, including teachers,” recalls Jamie. “I knew in my mind she was having seizures.”

The Bayville mother tried to get an appointment with several neurologists, but was told there was a four to six month wait.

She called Alexa’s pediatrician, who referred her to boardcertified neurologist and board-certified epileptologist Amor Mehta, MD. Jamie got an appointment right away with Dr. Mehta, medical director of Community Medical Center’s Epilepsy Center at the Jay and Linda Grunin Neuroscience Institute.

During the office visit, Dr. Mehta monitored Alexa through a simple hyperventilation provocation test (she had to breathe in and out quickly for several minutes) and then confirmed that she was likely having absence seizures, as hyperventilation is known to possibly trigger seizures. Based on the initial office visit, Dr. Mehta advised Jamie to have Alexa undergo a Video-EEG monitoring study in the Pediatric Department at Community Medical Center so that her diagnosis could be confirmed and to get a baseline idea of how many seizures Alexa was having in a 24-hour period before medication treatment was to commence.

Video-EEG is a state-of-the-art tool that captures real-time video of the patient and correlates it with a continuously running EEG – a record of the brain’s electrical activity.

“EEG is the gold-standard means for diagnosing seizure disorders,” said Dr. Mehta. “Not all seizures present with convulsions, but many seizures present in unusual ways clinically and Video-EEG helps to correlate these clinical changes with electrical seizure activity so that an accurate diagnosis of a seizure disorder can be made prior to starting treatment.”

Within the test’s first 24 hours, Alexa had 215 seizures, each lasting from 5 to 25 seconds. Her Video-EEG results indicated she was having “absence seizures” – brief disturbances of brain function due to abnormal electrical activity in the brain. The seizures typically cause a person to stop what they’re doing and stare for several seconds while being totally disconnected from the world around them during the seizure.

“Even though absence seizures don’t affect a person’s vital signs, they can interfere with their ability to grow and learn academically, as well as affect them socially,” says Dr. Mehta. “Alexa cumulatively lost about an hour each day from her to stop what they’re doing and stare for several seconds while being totally disconnected from the world around them during the seizure.

“Even though absence seizures don’t affect a person’s vital signs, they can interfere with their ability to grow and learn academically, as well as affect them socially,” says Dr. Mehta. “Alexa cumulatively lost about an hour each day from her seizures.”

Alexa, now 5, will likely stay on medication until she’s an early teen, at which point most children outgrow the condition, according to Dr. Mehta. The best news – she’s down to just five seizures a day.

“It’s very important to use a Video-EEG not to just diagnose but to quantify how much of the day is spent seizing and to gauge how well the treatment is working,” continues Dr. Mehta. “By the time Alexa is in her late preteen years, we’ll conduct another Video-EEG study and if results are normal, we’ll consider stopping the medication.”

While the medicine makes Alexa a bit tired – she’s back to taking a daily nap – the kindergartner is paying attention more and is very active.

“She just needs to use caution when swimming or doing gymnastics,” explains Jamie.

“Dr. Mehta is such a great guy,” says the grateful parent. “He’s compassionate and has a wonderful bedside manner.”

Most important, though, is her daughter’s improved health. “We’re very happy that Alexa isn’t having so many seizures,” says Jamie, “and is getting the treatment she needs.”