Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Significant Decline During Early Pandemic: The early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic saw a sharp decrease in seizure- or epilepsy-related emergency department (ED) visits across all age groups, with the most substantial reductions among children aged 0–9 years.
  2. Delayed Recovery for Young Children: Recovery of seizure-related ED visit rates to pre-pandemic levels was significantly delayed for children aged 0–9, not stabilizing until mid-2021, which was later than other age groups.
  3. Reasons for ED Visit Declines: The reduction in seizure-related ED visits is thought to be influenced by fears of COVID-19 exposure, adherence to public health measures that limited exposure, and increased reliance on telehealth services.
  4. Impact of COVID-19 on Seizure Care: The pandemic highlighted the importance of ensuring access to appropriate care for individuals with seizures or epilepsy, stressing the need for vaccination and the avoidance of ED unless necessary.
  5. Research and Public Health Implications: These findings emphasize the need to understand the factors leading to reduced ED use and to explore alternative care methods for seizure management during public health crises.

Original Article Author and Citation

Corresponding Author

Email: Sanjeeb Sapkota,

Suggested Citation

Sapkota S, Caruso E, Kobau R, et al. Seizure- or Epilepsy-Related Emergency Department Visits Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic — United States, 2019–2021. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2022;71:703–708. DOI: .


The study explores changes in the patterns of emergency department visits for seizure or epilepsy-related issues across different age groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. It reveals a significant decline in ED visits during the early months of the pandemic, particularly among children, with a slower return to pre-pandemic levels.


Data were analyzed from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program, which collects health data from EDs across approximately 71% of the U.S. The study examined trends by age groups and visualized these trends over three years using advanced statistical tools.


The decline in seizure-related ED visits, especially among children, could reflect broader changes in health-seeking behaviors during the pandemic. The study suggests that public health messages and care delivery need to be adjusted in response to such changes to ensure effective management of epilepsy and seizure disorders.


This analysis underscores the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthcare utilization for epilepsy and seizure disorders. It highlights the need for continued public health efforts to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on vulnerable populations, including those with epilepsy.

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