By Mitch Jackson
When Dr. Tad Fantaneanu, a new epileptologist in Ottawa, is asked why he is so invested in epilepsy care in Ottawa, he has a simple answer.
“Because it’s home,” he said. “The more people feel well taken care of, feel like the system is on their side, the better the quality of life for all of us who live here.”
Dr. Tad – as he’s commonly known – has returned home to Ottawa and is already beginning this work. Luckily for us at Epilepsy Ottawa, he is now Epilepsy Ottawa’s Medical Advisor.
Dr. Tad’s interest in epilepsy was kick-started when he first saw someone’s brain activity being recorded live, through a process known as an electroencephalogram (EEG). He was immediately drawn to the the discipline of epilepsy through learning how to interpret the EEGs.
“I fell in love with the material, the science, the physiology and the kind of “geeky-techy” aspect of it all,” said Dr. Tad.
As Epilepsy Ottawa’s Medical Advisor, Dr. Tad consults with Epilepsy Ottawa on a wide range of topics, including the accuracy of educational material we develop and helping out with public information meetings.
Dr. Tad attended McGill University for medical school and trained in the adult neurology residency program at the University of Ottawa. He then completed a 2 year fellowship in clinical neurophysiology and advanced epilepsy through Harvard University at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA.
Dr. Tad’s interest was nurtured by a mentor at this hospital in Boston.
Women and Epilepsy
Women have a very different experience with epilepsy in general and Dr. Tad has a deep knowledge of this.
Hormones can have an effect on the medications and seizures of women with epilepsy, as well as their family planning techniques.
Some anti-seizure drugs can impact hormonal birth control effectiveness or be quite harmful to developing fetuses when women are pregnant.
“We are working on creating a bit of a more streamlined care plan for women who are pregnant by partnering up with maternal fetal specialists and obstetricians at the Ottawa Hospital as well as internists to follow them more closely. It’s better care,” said Dr. Tad.
“Given that it’s 2018, it is still shocking to me just how stigmatized this condition still is in our society,” said Dr. Tad.
“Seizure control is one small aspect of a patient’s journey to healing and leading an amazing life. All the other obstacles can be just as urgent to overcome – driving restrictions, loss of employment, depression or anxiety, cognitive problems, and perhaps most important is gaining acceptance from our collective society.”
Despite these challenges, Dr. Tad is hopeful for the future of people living with epilepsy in the community.
The Future of Epilepsy Care in Ottawa
“We are much better mobilized as a collective than we were before – agencies are linking with health-care infrastructure, like we are doing now, and this gives us a much stronger voice to reach everyone in our community,” said Dr. Tad.
“That means shining a light on epilepsy and gaining more public awareness which is paramount.”
Dr. Tad also referred to the fact that new medications and surgical techniques are constantly being developed.
“All of these advancements make me hopeful that we can one day find a way to bring seizures to a halt for most people with epilepsy.”
Dr. Tad also has a plan for a transitional program of care that will help adults with epilepsy get the information that they need.
“Children that become adults often leave a lifetime of family centered care at a children’s hospital to patient centered care in an adult hospital,” explained Dr. Tad. “Basically, they are now calling the shots for their own medical decisions.”
A transition program would help people with epilepsy prepare for this from an earlier age so that they don’t come to the adult hospital unprepared or taken aback.
“This helps the continuity of care by making sure all the patient information makes it to the right people on the adult side, too many times patients come to their appointments and are shocked that the adult providers don’t have their medical information handy,” said Dr. Tad.
“The system is known for these kinds of gaps, but a transition program helps bridge those and make for a smooth transition to the adult stream of care.”
Epilepsy Ottawa is looking forward to working with Dr. Tad to help improve epilepsy care in Ottawa.