Behavioral intervention as an add-on therapy in epilepsy: Designing a clinical trial

Emily L. Polak, Michael D. Privitera, Richard B. Lipton, Sheryl R. Haut

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Many patients with epilepsy continue to experience seizures despite taking medication, and stress is a commonly reported trigger for seizures in these individuals. Therefore, a behavioral therapy proven to be effective in epilepsy could be a valuable adjunct to current pharmacotherapy. The challenges in testing such a behavioral intervention for epilepsy are numerous, including lack of consensus about sham designs, maintaining the blind, and powering the study absent known effect sizes. Herein, we present the design of a randomized, controlled, double-blind trial of progressive muscle relaxation as an add-on therapy for refractory epilepsy. Progressive muscle relaxation, which involves the tensing and releasing of muscle groups one at a time, is a well-established technique that relaxes the body and mind, reduces stress, and may improve seizure control. Study design issues discussed may provide insights that will inform future behavioral research in epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-510
Number of pages6
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Alternative therapy
  • Electronic diary
  • Epilepsy
  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Seizure precipitants
  • Stress reduction
  • Trial design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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