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SUNY Downstate Comprehensive Epilepsy Center

Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU)

Dr Grant with EMU patient

The Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) is a dedicated 6-bed unit located on the 7th floor of University Hospital of Brooklyn. Specialized staff and equipment provide round-the-clock monitoring of the patient's behavior and brain waves (EEG). EMU rooms have built-in video cameras with microphones, cable connectors for EEG, and alarm buttons for when a patient has a seizure or spell. Most patients are in the EMU for 3 - 5 days, but occasionally stays up to 10 days are needed, especially in patients being evaluated for epilepsy surgery.

Benefits of EMU Monitoring

There are 3 main reasons for a doctor to recommend a patient be admitted to an EMU.

  1. To determine whether a patient's spells are epileptic seizures, or are from some other cause.
  2. To determine the types of seizures a patient has. There are different forms of epilepsy and many types of seizures. Correctly diagnosing the type of epilepsy and seizure helps the physician choose the most effective medications
  3. To determine precisely where in the brain seizures start, in order to evaluate whether brain surgery could eliminate or reduce the patient's seizures , when the seizures are not controlled by medications.

Sophisticated Diagnostics

An admission to the EMU requires special equipment in a hospital setting.

The EEG recording provides information about the brain's electrical activity, and is the best way to detect the abnormal electrical activity of epileptic seizures.

The video recording can help doctors determine whether the patients awareness or responsiveness are changed during the seizure a, and what parts of the brains are involved in the seizure activity.

The test is complete when enough of the patient's spells or seizures have been recorded to answer the question that the doctor had when he recommended EMU admission. Every day, an epilepsy specialist reviews the recordings, paying particular attention to any seizures or spells. The doctor may make adjustments to the patient's medication during the testing process, often to help bring out more seizures or spells for observation.

After the monitoring is finished, the epilepsy specialist will prepare a comprehensive report about the recordings, which will be sent to the doctor who recommended the test.


How To Prepare For Admission To The EMU

Please arrive for your admission on time .

Wash your hair the night before your test to assist with the electrode application process. Do not use oils, hairspray or gels afterward.

Please remove hair weaves or braids prior to your admission

We encourage you to bring reading material, puzzles, games or crafts so that you can stay busy during the EMU admission . You can wear skirts, pants, pajamas, and a top. Please bring tops that button down the front rather than pullovers.