Meet Dr. Marisara DieppaEpilepsy and Concussion Specialist in Dallas

Epilepsy specialist Marisara Dieppa, M.D., is one of the few neurologists with advanced training in sports neurology, which helps athletes who experience sports-related head injuries improve their day-to-day quality of life.

She was the first doctor at UT Southwestern to perform a fellowship in sports neurology, at a time when very few hospitals considered it a specialty.

Dr. Dieppa notes that both epilepsy and sports-related head injuries can have an enormous impact on a patient’s daily activities. Epilepsy can cause disruptive and painful seizures, while concussions and other sports neurology injuries can lead to chronic headaches, balance issues, mood disorders, insomnia, cognitive problems, and more. Dr. Dieppa adds, however, that new treatments and a better understanding of epilepsy, concussion, and related neurological conditions are improving results for patients.

Dr. Dieppa and UT Southwestern’s Epilepsy team offer medication, surgical options, and nerve stimulation treatments for inpatient and outpatient epilepsy patients. The National Association of Epilepsy Centers designated the UTSW clinic a Level 4 Epilepsy Center, its highest rating, signifying that Dr. Dieppa and her team provide truly comprehensive care in the treatment of the disease.

“Our main focus is to identify patients early on who are a candidate for surgery because we can actually cure epilepsy for many,” she says. “We do intracranial monitoring, and we are one of the few centers in Texas to offer stereo EEG, which helps us monitor patients and decide whether they would benefit from surgery.”

The team also takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating concussions and other sports-related head injuries, working with neuropsychologists, physical and speech therapists, physiatrists, and other experts to provide comprehensive care for patients.

“We have the best of the best, and we put our patients first,” Dr. Dieppa says. “Above all, our main interest is helping people get better.”

Personal Ties to an Emerging Field

Dr. Dieppa’s passion for sports initially piqued her interest in medicine. She was on course to become a professional volleyball player, but her career was cut short by an ACL injury.

That’s when she set her sights on helping others by becoming a doctor. Neurology was a natural choice. Because three of her four grandparents suffered from dementia, she had always been interested in how the brain works. By combining her interest in neurology with her love of sports, she saw an opportunity to make a real difference.

She jumped at the opportunity to focus on treating concussions and other brain injuries that cause debilitating – and often career-ending – symptoms such as chronic headaches, memory problems, and balance issues.

“As I was finishing my residency and first fellowship, I started getting more involved in sports neurology, and UT Southwestern saw the importance of creating a program for concussions and sports,” she says. “I really enjoy treating athletes because they’re a very highly motivated group of people who want to get better and go back to playing.”