What is Rasmussen's encephalitis?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Rasmussen's encephalitis is a rare, chronic inflammatory disease that usually affects only one hemisphere of the brain. It occurs in children under the age of 10 (and more rarely in adolescents and adults) and is characterized by frequent and severe seizures, loss of motor skills and speech, paralysis on one side of the body (hemiparesis), the inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), and mental deterioration. Most individuals with Rasmussen's encephalitis will experience frequent seizures and brain damage over the course of the first 8-12 months and then enter a phase of permanent, but stable, neurological deficits. Scientists currently think that Rasmussen's encephalitis is an autoimmune disease in which immune system cells enter the brain and cause inflammation and damage.

This answer is based on source information from The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes.

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