Neurologists in Japan Worry About Their Patients

March 27, 2011


By Orly Avitzur, MD

After the recent catastrophes that struck Japan, many of those who survived lost everything, including the prescription drugs needed to treat their neurologic conditions.

One woman, a 57-year-old housewife living in Rikuzen-Takata city, the disaster center of the tsunami, was unable to take lamotrigine, the drug that had been keeping her seizure-free. Even if she had found a way to access the local hospital, the new drug would not have been available.

Another victim, a 56-year-old man with intractable epilepsy who had been scheduled for surgery to implant a vagal nerve stimulator, suffered generalized tonic chronic seizures, as likely did countless others who were deprived of their medication.

Nobukazu Nakasato, MD, professor of epileptology at the Tohoku University School of Medicine, who treats these patients, told Neurology Today that he also expects to see a great deal of post-traumatic stress syndrome in the upcoming weeks and months.

The story, "An Earthquake, A Tsunami, A Nuclear Disaster: Japan’s Neurologists On the Front Lines," interviewed several neurologists who live in Japan, and described hospitals damaged by the earthquake and still without electric power, water and food, pharmacies with insufficient stock, and damaged roads and railways that crippled transportation of needed supplies.

The neurologists, who were saddened for their colleagues who had lost relatives, also shared their concerns for their patients on ventilators at homes without electricity and the impact of radiation effects.

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