My name is Carrie Morrison, I graduated from Dalhousie University with my MBA(FS) in 2018. I am passionate about raising awareness and funds to find a cure for epilepsy. In 2019 I joined the Board of Directors for Epilepsy Canada in order to amplify my efforts for the cause. It has been a very soul-fulfilling experience and I encourage everyone to advocate for something your passionate about.
For many, March 26th is a day comes and goes without taking more than a second thought. For me, this is not the case. For me, I am reminded of loved ones I have supported, and sadly, lost to epileptic disorders.
It is in their honour that I share with you some facts about epilepsy which may surprise you, and help you understand what to do should you encounter someone having a seizure. Unfortunately, public perception and treatment of individuals afflicted with epilepsy can often be larger problems than the seizures themselves. Seeing someone have an uncontrollable seizure can be scary to witness. People with epilepsy often suffer from depression and anxiety, have strained relationships, have their license to drive taken away, and have trouble learning and so much more. The more we know about epilepsy, the more we are able to acknowledge its prevalence and the stress it inflicts upon individuals, their loved ones and caregivers, and our society as a whole. Ultimately, the more empathetic we can become, the more successful we will be in finding a cure.
Research is very expensive and these are some reasons why we need your help, did you know:
- Epilepsy is one of the most common brain conditions characterized by momentary glitches in the brain’s electrical activity, which are called seizures.
- Epilepsy can be a condition in and of itself or it can compound preexisting conditions, for example autism, down syndrome, tumors, stroke, or head injury.
- Over 65 million people globally and over 350,000 Canadians live with epilepsy – personally affecting more people than Multiple Sclerosis + Cerebral Palsy + Muscular Dystrophy + Cystic Fibrosis, combined.
- Epilepsy indirectly affects more than 1 million Canadians, including parents and 1 sibling – however, indirect impact can reach up to 30% of the population if you include employers, teachers, friends, extended family members, etc.
- Doctor’s do not know what causes epilepsy and there is no cure.
- 1 in 26 people will develop epilepsy over the course of their lifetime.
- Epilepsy causes more deaths than breast cancer, drunk driving, or prescription drugs.
- There are about a dozen different types of epilepsy and three major groups of seizures which are named based on the part of the brain where they occur: Focal onset, Generalized onset and Unknown onset seizures.
- Seizures can present themselves in many ways:
- Some people stare off into space,
- Some make jerky movements,
- Others lose consciousness all together.
- 33% of people living with epilepsy have intractable epilepsy which means their seizures cannot be controlled by medication – That’s equates to ~120,000 Canadians which live a life of complete disorder.
- Women with epilepsy may have more seizures around the time of their menstrual cycles, due to hormonal shifts/levels.
- Photosensitive epilepsy is triggered by small visual stimuli – in this virtual word, be mindful that flashing lights, bold and regular patterns, or repeating/regular moving patters can trigger seizures.
- Frontal lobe seizures may cause an individual to smell burnt toast, the hallucination can last a few minutes.
- Approximately 2.5% of people living with epilepsy will die from SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death from Epilepsy) – which means sadly, 9,000 Canadians will learn a new acronym this year.
- People with epilepsy may use service dogs – Seizure dogs have been specially trained to respond to someone who has epilepsy.
- They can be trained to encourage the affected individual to get into a safe position before seizure onset,
- They can keep the affected safe when experiencing a seizure (laying under the head of an individual while experiencing their seizure,
- They can also be a great comfort for an individual recovering from a seizure.
Now that you know a little about epilepsy, what can you do to help people who are affected by seizures?
- Stay with the person and time the seizure – remain calm,
- Keep the person safe while they have the seizure by removing harmful objects,
- If the person is unconscious, turn them onto their side,
- DO NOT put anything in their mouths – DO put something small and soft under their heads and loosen tight clothes around the neck,
- Do NOT restrain – DO allow them space and freedom to have their seizure,
- Stay with them until they are awake and alert – most seizures end in a few minutes.
If a seizure lasts longer than 5 minutes, the individual appears to have difficulty breathing, the person gets injured, is pregnant or sick, and if the person does not return to their usual state – call 911.
I hope you found some of this information useful, interesting, and I hope it encourages you to get involved.
You can help to find a cure, by donating to Epilepsy Canada www.epilepsy.ca/donate
Source: Epilepsy Canada – www.epilepsy.ca
“Epilepsy Canada is a registered Canadian charity dedicated to positively affecting the lives of those living with epilepsy. It’s sole mandate is to raise monies for epilepsy research with an objective of finding a cure. It demonstrates the need for research by highlighting key issues related to those whose seizures cannot be controlled through existing medication and treatments and the tragic cases of SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death from Epilepsy). Through its active financial support of epilepsy research, it strives to help the Canadian neurology community find a cure for epilepsy.
Epilepsy Canada is governed by a nationally representative Board of Directors, comprised of leading professionals from the neurology and business communities. Founded in 1966, the organization depends on donor and volunteer support for the continued development and delivery of its research grant programs.”