2021 40 Under 40 Honoree: Dr. Taylor Abel
“Forty percent of children have epilepsy that doesn’t respond to medications. And all of those should be considered for the highest level of care and potential surgery.”
Dr. Taylor Abel (37)
Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery, UPMC
When he was 6 years old, Dr. Taylor Abel was diagnosed with benign rolandic epilepsy, a condition most children outgrow, as Abel did, by puberty. But the experience led him to become one of the few neurosurgeons in the United States with subspecialty training in both pediatric neurosurgery and epilepsy surgery. In some operations, Abel disconnects half of a patient’s brain to stop catastrophic epilepsy.
“Most families don’t regret having the surgery because of how life-changing it is,” Abel says, even though those patients lose half of their visual field and some of their motor function.
Abel has developed an epilepsy program that includes a multi-disciplinary clinic for children being evaluated for and recovering from epilepsy surgery. One of his current research projects is investigating social, demographic and geographic barriers to high-level epilepsy care in Western Pennsylvania.
“Forty percent of children have epilepsy that doesn’t respond to medications. And all of those should be considered for the highest level of care and potential surgery,” Abel says