Sarah Wilson, PhD: The Burden of Normality Post-Epilepsy Surgery


The clinical neuropsychologist and head of the School of Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne spoke about what physicians need to provide to help patients through the adjustment period after epilepsy surgery.

“If you think about epilepsy surgery, [patients have] been chronically unwell. They have a procedure, and it renders them suddenly better. That’s sometimes described by patients as transformative, so they have this sense of ‘the new me,’ and ‘who am I, now that I don’t have epilepsy?’”

When patients with epilepsy undergo resective surgery for their epilepsy, they often undergo a number of cognitive and psychological processes post-surgery, and while these can present differently, they have introduced a need for neurorehabilitation. Specifically, this rehabilitation process needs to focus on retraining of the brain in a number of facets.

At the 2019 International Epilepsy Congress, June 22-26, in Bangkok, Thailand, NeurologyLive® spoke with Sarah Wilson, PhD, clinical neuropsychologist, and head, School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, about this process. Wilson detailed how much of this rehabilitation is focused on “the burden of normalcy”—essentially providing patients the psychosocial skillsets and cognitive support they need to prepare for a post-epilepsy life.

Wilson spoke about the ideally assembled team and length of time for this sort of rehab, what physicians need to provide to help patients through this adjustment period, and ­­how to address possible challenges with changes in mood.

For more coverage of IEC 2019, click here.


Coleman H, McIntosh A, Wilson S. Living with epilepsy: patient perceptions of their epilepsy and its treatment 15 to 20 years after epilepsy surgery. Presented at: 2019 International Epilepsy Congress. June 22-26, 2019; Bangkok, Thailand. P348.

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