Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

Epilepsy Monitoring Unit photo

What Is The Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU)?

The EMU is for patients with all types of events believed to be seizures. A seizure is a sudden, uncontrolled burst of electrical activity in the brain. It can cause changes in behavior, movements, feelings and levels of consciousness. An EMU evaluation was ordered by your neurologist and plays an important role in a patient’s diagnosis and management of seizures and epilepsy. At Denver Health our staff uses electroencephalogram (EEG) equipment to see brain activity and video cameras to watch body movements during a seizure. EEG and video give your doctor a better idea of where your seizures are coming from in the brain, which helps to make a special treatment plan.

The EMU is located at 780 Delaware St. in Denver. Please enter Pavilion B and check in on the third floor

Learn more about The Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) below

What should I expect?

Patients will be admitted on Monday morning and be discharged three to five days later. The maximum allowed stay is typically five days. Once you are settled into your hospital room, an EEG technician will measure your head and clean your scalp in preparation for electrode placement. They will attach electrodes to your scalp with a special adhesive (washable) that will stay in place during your stay. The wires will be connected to a machine that transfers signals recorded from your brain to a computer to be evaluated by your doctor. To capture your typical seizures or events, the technician may perform procedures such as photic stimulation (a series of bright flashing lights) and hyperventilation (brief heavy breathing). Your doctor may also lower the dose or stop the anti-seizure medicines you are taking to cause a seizure. The length of your hospital stay will depend on the events that occur during hospitalization and the conversations that you have with your care team in the EMU.

Data that is collected during your EMU will be interpreted by an epileptologist and reviewed with you in a clinic visit following your stay.

During this monitoring period, there will be restrictions placed to ensure your safety and to achieve the best quality of monitoring for your study.

  • You will remain in your room and in bed for the duration of the study.
  • You will need the assistance of nursing staff to move from the bed to the bathroom.
  • A nurse will be with you during visits to the bathroom as a safety precaution in the event of a seizure or fall.
  • You are required to always wear a roll belt while in bed.
  • You are required to always wear nonskid socks and a gait belt when out of bed.
  • You cannot chew gum or use a mouthguard.
  • You cannot wear sunglasses or cover your head during sleep.
  • You will need to sleep on your back with a small light on in the room.
  • You will have an IV placed during your admission.
  • You will be on video while you are hooked up to EEG.
  • You cannot shower until the EEG is unhooked at the end of the week.

What should I bring?

  • Please bring your prescribed medications in their original containers to admission and give them to the nurse. All medications you take must be administered by your nurse after the doctor orders them.
  • Bring comfortable clothing (shirts should open from the front) if you don’t want to wear hospital scrubs.
  • You will have a TV. Bring books, crafts, games, puzzles, laptops with headphones, or other comfort items to keep you busy.
  • Meals will be given to you during your stay, but you may also bring outside food or drink.
  • Do not bring any marijuana, THC or CBD products to the hospital. Epidiolex is permitted. There is a strict no smoking and vaping policy. We can order you a nicotine patch if needed.
  • If you have questions for your medical team, write them down and bring a list to your admission.

Who do I call if I have questions or problems?

If you cannot make your appointment, please call the EMU main line: 303-602-4368. You can also call the Denver Health NurseLine at 303-739-1211 anytime, day or night.

Staff you will meet in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit

Epileptologist: The epileptologist is the attending physician during your EMU stay and is responsible for reading your EEG. They will compile all available data in your EMU report, and address medication and clinical aspects of your hospital stay.

Physician Assistant: The Physician Assistant will admit patients to the EMU, collect history, and check in with patients each morning to go over the day's plan and serve as a liaison between patients and the epileptologist.

EEG Department: The EEG department consists of EEG technicians and Seizure Monitoring Technicians (SMTS). An EEG technician will do your EEG hookup and may perform activating maneuvers such as photic stimulation if the epileptologist orders it during your stay. SMTs will be watching the video and EEG for signs of a seizure and will alert nursing staff to go into the patient’s room if a seizure is detected.

Epilepsy Coordinator: The Epilepsy Coordinator will contact you to schedule your EMU admission, provide documentation to assist with preparation, and offer resources as needed. The Epilepsy Coordinator will assist with scheduling additional testing as needed after your EMU stay.

Nurses: All EMU nurses are trained in seizure recognition, response, safety, and applicable protocols.

Licensed Clinical Social Workers: LCSWs are available in the EMU as well as the neurology clinic. Speak with your provider or the Epilepsy Coordinator if you would like a referral.

Therapy Dog: Navy is a trained therapy dog from Canine Assistants. He is a Golden Retriever and works in the EMU to provide comfort and affection for patients experiencing seizures or seizure-like activity.

Special instructions:

  • The night before, wash your hair, and do not use any gel, hairspray or other hair products. If you have open wounds on your scalp, let the EMU coordinator know before scheduling.
  • Take your normal dose of medication the morning of your admission unless otherwise instructed not to by your physician.
  • A loved one may stay overnight with you during your admission. Please tell the EMU coordinator in advance if someone plans to stay with you.
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