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Preparing your child for an EEG

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Practical Tips to prepare your child for an EEG

An EEG doesn’t hurt, but it is a strange and unusual experience for a child (and even an adult) so here are some quick tips to help you all prepare.

  1. Prepare yourself and keep calm!  Even the youngest children can pick up if you are anxious and stressed.
  2. Be organised – An EEG will take up to an hour. Once the electrodes are applied you are unable to move from the chair or bed. So a trip to the bathroom before the appointment is a necessity.
  3. Relax – bring your child’s favourite story or book so that you can keep them calm and content. iPads can help if they are a special treat and keep the child still and focused. We have bubbles and few other tricks if needed.
  4. A drowsy or tired child can be beneficial – But an over tired one is not so good! We encourage children to sleep during the test. Note that a sleep deprived EEG is different to someone sleeping during the test and your doctor may ask for a sleep deprived EEG even if your child slept on the first EEG.
  5. Putting on the Electrodes – Electrodes are applied to your child’s head in set positions. We put these on using cotton buds and what looks and feels like a facial scrub. Each electrode is individually applied to the scalp by using a tacky paste with a soft covering.  Once all the electrodes are on, a net is placed over the entire scalp to secure them. Depending on the age of your child, a bandage is applied to protect the electrodes from touching. *
  6. Be Prepared to help– During the set up you will need to hold your child so their head remains still. If there is an extra pair of hands to help, we ask them to hold your child’s hands.
  7. Be Prepared for crying – None of this hurts, but it is normal for a child to cry. Nobody likes to be held still, especially if they are too young to understand why and what is going on. If you have a child that has recently been in hospital then they are probably sick of everyone prodding and poking them – this test just seems like one more attack!
  8. It doesn’t hurt! – We can’t say this enough. During the recording the child feels nothing. There is no electricity, no zaps and no x-rays.
  9. Timing- The actual recording takes 20 minutes for a routine EEG and 30-40 minutes for a sleep deprived test. During this time the child needs to remain still.
  10. Breathing and Lights– During the test there are 2 things that need to be done: 1.Deep breathing/Hyperventilation for anyone who is able to blow a windmill or deep breathe. This is done to put the brain under pressure and takes 3-5 minutes depending on what the doctor is looking for. 2.Flashing strobe light – a light will flash at lots of different frequencies for 10 seconds at a time. If they can, the child will be asked to open and close their eyes at different times.
  11. Eyes closed– if possible. Ideally the majority of the test is recorded while your child’s eyes are closed. Smaller children are often reluctant to close their eyes. So, if there has been no eye closure during the test then we may be forced to keep their eyes closed by holding the eyes down. You guessed it – this will probably lead to more crying – but it will only be for 10-20 seconds at the end of the recording.
  12. After the test– The hair is going to be a little sticky with the electrode paste. This can be washed off with shampoo or soap free bath wash once you get home. It doesn’t damage the scalp or hair in any way, but we recommend it being removed prior to bed time that night – otherwise it can make a mess of your sheets!

Remember the more relaxed the child is the easier the recording is to read!

* Electrode caps can be used in some circumstances. These are purpose built caps that have the electrodes built in – they look a little like a nippers cap. Gel is squirted onto these electrodes using a syringe (no needle!)

Our team provides quality and comprehensive neurological care to the Northern Beaches Peninsula and Northern Sydney regions.