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Penn Medicine has established a new Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU), which located in the Human Neurophysiology Research Laboratory.

Credit: Max Mester

Penn Medicine established a new Epilepsy Monitoring Unit to determine how to best treat patients with drug-resistant epilepsy. 

The new unit will be located in the Human Neurophysiology Research Laboratory, which is scheduled to open this fall, according to Penn Medicine News. The EMU has 12 beds where patients will be monitored by using recording equipment and monitor-advanced imaging

The EMU faculty consists of Penn neurologists, neurosurgeons, bioengineers, and neuroscientists, Penn Medicine News reported. The combination of researchers and clinicians will ensure that the data and information collected are accurate and may be applied to clinical practice and real-life patient situations. 

“About a third of the world’s 60 million people with epilepsy cannot have their epilepsy controlled with medicines,” EMU Neurologist and Director of the Penn Epilepsy Center at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania Brian Litt said. 

The ultimate goal of the EMU is to improve treatment for patients with epilepsy. The EMU also hopes to provide unique treatment options compared to other labs because of the type of brain imaging it uses to collect data, Medical Director of the EMU Kathryn Davis said.

“The idea of having direct recordings of brain activity in people doing sophisticated tasks is something that is of enormous value to neuroscience,” Penn neuroscience professor Joshua Gold said. 

He added that these measurements are unique for their spatial and temporal resolution. In comparison to the traditional method of using fMRI scans, the EMU will provide more detailed and accurate data. 

Davis said that in order to locate the sources of seizures in epilepsy patients, researchers implant electrodes in the patients’ brains that help to map brain networks. Locating the source of these seizures can help determine the best method of treatment for that patient. 

“Some of the things that we’ve put in place in the new unit will enable us visually to be able to see the patients better,” Davis said. “The patients will also have more space and be more comfortable. It’s important to make sure that they’re as comfortable as possible while we are providing the optimal care at the same time. The new unit really enables us to raise the bar for the care for these patients.”