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A leading pioneer in the study of PNES, Benbadis is director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Program and professor of the Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery, University of South Florida and Tampa General Hospital.He has openly encouraged both the psychiatric and neurological community to broaden their clinical knowledge base when diagnosing and treating people with PNES.Thus, there seems to be a severe disconnect between the frequency of the problem and the amount of attention devoted to it.” Benbadis also contends that the misdiagnosis of epilepsy in patients with PNES is common.In fact, approximately 25% of people who have a previous diagnosis of epilepsy and are not responding to drug therapy are found to be misdiagnosed.“Unfortunately, once the diagnosis of epilepsy is made, it is easily perpetuated without being questioned, which explains the usual diagnostic delay and cost associated with PNES,” he states.It is important to note that the diagnosis of PNES may be difficult initially for several reasons.
Kelley herself has been able to circumvent this frustration as she has adopted a trauma-focused clinical approach, which not only serves her well as a clinician, but also helps her patients with PNES to overcome their seizures.
A physician may suspect PNES when the seizures have unusual features, such as type of movements, duration, triggers, and frequency.
A specific traumatic event, such as physical or sexual abuse, incest, divorce, death of a loved one, or other great loss or sudden change, can be identified in many people with PNES.
Psychogenic nonepileptic seizures (PNES) are an uncomfortable topic, one that is difficult for both patients and healthcare professionals to discuss and treat.
Yet it is estimated that PNES are diagnosed in 20 to 30% of patients seen at epilepsy centers for intractable seizures.